U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said on Friday he will vote for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, mainly as a way to stop Republican Donald Trump from winning the White House.
The move comes after weeks of pressure on Sanders, the U.S. senator from Vermont, from Democratic party officials to endorse Clinton since she locked up the nomination this month with a string of wins in state-by-state primary contests.
Asked if he would vote for Clinton in November, Sanders told MSNBC television: “Yes. The issue right here is I’m going to do everything I can to defeat Donald Trump. I think Trump in so many ways would be a disaster for this country if he were elected president.”
“We do not need a president whose cornerstone of his campaign is bigotry, who is insulting Mexicans and Latinos and Muslims and women, who does not believe in the reality of climate change,” he continued.
Trump has angered minority groups with his hard line on immigration, including calls to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country, deport millions of undocumented immigrants, and build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border if he is elected.
Trump has also called climate change a hoax by the Chinese to hurt business in the United States.
Sanders, a self-described Democratic socialist, managed to turn his long-shot run into a mass movement with proposals to combat wealth inequality, increase access to health care and education, and defend the environment.
His challenge to Clinton, one of the best known figures in U.S. politics, lasted far longer than expected, running for four months and across 50 states and yielding record numbers of small donations to his campaign.
Sanders has said he will continue to push for a liberal agenda heading into the Democratic National Convention July 25-28, when Clinton’s nomination is expected to become official. He has also made clear he doesn’t want his presence to hurt the party’s chances of keeping the White House.
More than three-quarters of Democrats say Sanders should have a “major role” in shaping the party’s positions, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll earlier this month. Nearly two-thirds also said that Sanders should endorse Clinton.
(Additional reporting by Richard Valdmanis in Boston; Editing by Alden Bentley and Jeffrey Benkoe)
Photo: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addresses the audience at the theater of the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 16, 2016. REUTERS/Alvin Baez