As Bernie Sanders gets ready to sit down with President Obama in the Oval Office on Thursday, Democrats in Congress said they hoped that Sanders would realize that it’s time to focus on unity and support for Hillary Clinton, as Democrats take aim at Donald Trump in the November election.
“I hope the President will have a palliative effect on him, and have him understand how important this election is going forward,” said Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL).
Before the votes were counted on Tuesday night, Sanders had vowed to keep fighting through next week’s final primary, here in Washington, D.C. – and on Wednesday, another fundraising email was sent out to supporters mentioning that same goal.
Sometimes that type of thing is just talk – but there is a certain level of concern among Democrats that Sanders is capable of doing anything at this point.
“I just don’t trust him,” one veteran Democratic insider told me.
One of the few lawmakers in Congress who supports Sanders, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), tried to bat down such concerns, making it clear that he thinks Sanders will come around and help Clinton.
“It is my hope that he (Sanders) will join Secretary Clinton in carrying the banner for the Democratic Party,” said Rep. John Lewis (D-GA).
But that precise thing has spurred concerns – since Sanders was never really a member of the Democratic Party in the first place.
“Bernie Sanders isn’t a Democrat,” said Rep. Hastings in a somewhat aggravated tone. “I have a problem with that,” as Hastings said he doesn’t want to see the party convention disrupted by outsiders.
Eight years ago when Hillary Clinton won the California Primary, she talked about continuing her fight against Barack Obama – just as Sanders is doing now.
“I will be making no decisions tonight,” Clinton said then in 2008.
But a few days later, Clinton got out and endorsed the Democratic Party victor.
Now, it’s the turn of Bernie Sanders to play that role, as he meets with President Obama.
“We will wait to see what he’s going to do,” said Rep. Lewis.
As for running against Trump, Democrats still think the presumptive GOP nominee presents a big target.
“All we want him to do is just keep talking,” Hastings said with a laugh.