Democratic candidates campaign perseveres despite Hillary Clintons delegate count but seems to be shifting focus to long-term impact on US politics
From the dying embers of his presidential campaign, Bernie Sanders has forged a new slogan that gives a clue to what the defiant leftwinger will do after losing the Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton.
The struggle continues might not have the wit of feel the Bern or the ambition of promising political revolution, but it hints at the dogged approach he is likely to take when he meets Barack Obama and other party leaders in Washington to discuss reconciliation on Thursday.
To the dismay of some Clinton supporters hoping for a swift capitulation from their Democratic opponent, Sanders has already scheduled another large rally immediately after his White House appointment and intends to contest the final primary election in Washington DC next Tuesday.
But there is a subtle change in tone that suggests that plans to take this undefined struggle all the way to the party convention in Philadelphia next month need not be the divisive slog that the establishment fears.
As an exhausted campaign team returned to its Vermont headquarters to recuperate on Wednesday, the official message was already pivoting from its recent focus on a narrowing path to victory in the nomination race and back to the long-term policy objectives that first electrified so many supporters.
Sanders will discuss a wide range of issues, including getting big money out of politics, his plan to make public colleges and universities tuition-free, combating climate change and ensuring universal healthcare, said a confirmation of Thursdays rally in DC that made no mention of the coming primary or the now mathematically impossible race to catch Clintons pledged delegate lead.
Close allies have also begun to say in public what many have been saying in private for weeks now: that this is about winning hearts and minds to a cause, not winning delegates. The official rhetoric about maintaining a path to victory was largely a pretext for keeping the media spotlight on these policy messages for as long as possible.
While his campaign has not won a majority of pledged delegates, it has reshaped American politics for the better, said Dan Cantor, national director of the Working Families Party, after Clintons stronger-than-expected win in California.
It has expanded whats possible. He tapped into deeply held sentiments about a rigged economy and a broken political system, and built a mass movement of people who believe we can do better and demand solutions that match the scale of the crises.
There is still plenty of rancour, too, especially after a 14-month battle with Clinton that came closer to defeating her than anyone predicted. Victory in 23 contests over the course of the primary season not only repeatedly raised hopes that winning the nomination was possible, but also brought out the competitive instincts in both campaigns.
Internal emails leaked to Politico this week suggest that some Sanders advisers worried that the public battles with Clinton became too bitter, and the Vermont senator was allowing personal pique to cloud his judgement.
But he has also needed to manage the even more passionate mood among supporters, whose propensity to oppose Clinton at every opportunity Sanders was already visibly trying to tamp down at his election night rally in Santa Monica on Tuesday, when he attempted to quieten boos from the crowd after mentioning her name.
To those supporters, this looks like victory rather than defeat. Not because they are stubbornly ignoring electoral reality (although many of them have been), but because issues that have been neglected by the party for decades will now be at the heart of its presumptive nominees efforts to win them over in the coming weeks.
Theyve never been more fired up, added Cantor. Were just as proud today to be part of a political revolution that is only beginning.