12 July, 2016
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said Tuesday he is supporting Hillary Clinton in her effort to be the next president for the United States.
Sanders spoke with a smiling Clinton at his side at a school in New Hampshire.
The two competed earlier this year for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.
"It is no secret that Hillary Clinton and I disagree on a number of issues," said Sanders. "That's what this campaign has been about. That's what democracy is about."
But he said that on many important issues – such as income inequality, climate change and immigration -- Clinton is the best candidate for the nation.
The Democratic "unity" announcement came just two weeks before the party's national convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Convention delegates are expected to make Clinton, the former U.S. secretary of state, the party's candidate in the presidential elections.
Donald Trump Is Clinton's Opponent
The Republican Party is expected to nominate businessman Donald Trump as its candidate.
"This campaign is not really about Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders, or any other candidate who sought the presidency," Sanders said. "This campaign is about the needs of the American people and addressing the very serious crises that we face."
Trump is expected to accept the Republican presidential nomination next week at the party's convention in Cleveland, Ohio.
On Tuesday, he tweeted that Sanders "sold out to crooked Hillary Clinton. Sanders was not true to himself and his supporters," Trump said.
Sanders said he is pleased his campaign won almost 1,900 Democratic delegates, "far more than almost anyone thought we could win."
"But it is not enough to win the nomination," he added.
Sanders Takes Credit for Raising Issues
The Senator took some credit for moving the Democrats to a more progressive party platform. Sanders said Clinton's opinions on some issues have moved closer to his. They include issues such as health care and reducing debt for college students.
Clinton said she is proud to get Sander's support. She said he "energized and inspired a generation of young people who care deeply about our country."
A recent Pew Research Center survey found that 85 percent of Sanders supporters say they will vote for Clinton in November. Only 9 percent of his supporters plan to vote for Trump.
Supporters React to Sanders' Endorsement
But some Sanders supporters said it will not be easy for them to back the woman who campaigned against their candidate.
Kira Willig is a lawyer and Sanders supporter from Florida. She cried as she watched Sanders standing next to Clinton.
"This has been a long sustained campaign of truly believing our country could go in the right direction," Willig said. But Willig said she knows "Bernie is correct" about backing Clinton.
"What we love about him is that he represents the best in all of us, and right now he is a better person than I am for his ability to rise above to make this appearance," Willig added.
Kachina Mooney, a Sanders supporter from West Virginia, said she understands he "feels deeply that Donald Trump is a huge threat."
"But I still believe Bernie to be the hope of our nation. I am Bernie strong, Bernie or bust, and I will write him in."
Mooney meant she would write Sanders' name onto her ballot, even if he fails to become the Democratic candidate.
Sanders endorsement of Clinton came as the Commission on Presidential Debates announced plans for three presidential debates before the November 8th election. The debates will include the Democratic and Republican candidates.
Independent candidates will need support of 15 percent of voters in major polls before the commission will let them join the debates.
Bruce Alpert reported on this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
smile - v. an expression on your face that makes the corners of your mouth turn up and that shows happiness, amusement, pleasure, affection
doubt - n. a feeling of being uncertain or unsure about something
inspire - v. to make someone want to do something
sustained - adj. an effort over a long period of time
bust - n. nothing else will do
platform – n. an official policy statement
poll – n. a public opinion survey or study
endorsement – n. an act of giving one's approval or support to someone or something