Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders to oppose Gorsuch's nomination With no emerging leaders, no clear message, Democrats flounder Democrats can either help solve healthcare challenges or stew in their partisanship MORE is staying in the Democratic presidential race after meeting with rival Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonWith no emerging leaders, no clear message, Democrats flounder Independent investigation into Russian interference needed Obama and Trump haven’t talked since inauguration MORE, the party’s presumptive nominee, for nearly two hours at a Washington, D.C., hotel on Tuesday night.
Sanders and Clinton met at the Capital Hilton just blocks from the White House to plot a way forward after the Democratic primary season came to a close on Tuesday.
Sanders and his wife Jane went in and out of the front entrance of the hotel, which was lined with cheering onlookers who snapped pictures and yelled out his name. Campaign manager Jeff Weaver also attended the meeting.
Clinton went in and out of the back entrance to little fanfare. She was joined by campaign chairman John Podesta and campaign manager Robby Mook.
The Sanders campaign released a statement late Tuesday night saying the group had “a positive discussion about how best to bring more people into the political process and about the dangerous threat that Donald TrumpDonald TrumpNRCC claims Obama surveillance of Trump 'confirmed' US further alienates itself on trade, nations look elsewhere for partners Harmful budget cuts won’t help GOP in 2018 and beyond MORE poses to our nation.”
Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs said there are still a variety of issues where they are “seeking common ground,” including raising the minimum wage, campaign finance reform, universal healthcare and more affordable college tuition.
“Sanders and Clinton agreed to continue working to develop a progressive agenda that addresses the needs of working families and the middle class and adopting a progressive platform for the Democratic National Convention,” Briggs said in the statement.
Sanders rushed from the hotel to catch a flight home to Burlington, Vt. Clinton will participate in a panel on national security in southeastern Virginia on Wednesday.
The meeting took place a half hour after polls closed in Washington, D.C., the final presidential primary of the season for either party.
Clinton won that primary and will win the Democratic race. She finishes with an advantage of nearly 400 pledged delegates over Sanders.
While Clinton will not earn enough delegates from the primaries and caucuses to secure the nomination outright — Democrats rarely do — superdelegates will push her across the threshold at the convention in Philadelphia in July.
The only remaining question is when and how Sanders decides to exit the race and whether he will seek to rally his millions of supporters behind Clinton’s candidacy.
Many Democrats are hopeful he’ll drop out soon to begin that process as the race has quickly turned to the general election match-up between Clinton and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
But Sanders has given no indication that he intends to drop out before the convention.
He will address supporters via video live-stream on Thursday, but spokesman Michael Briggs said earlier on Tuesday that Sanders will not drop out "today, or tomorrow, or the next day.”
“He has said that he plans to stay in this through the Democratic convention,” Briggs said, according to Bloomberg News.
That’s the signal Sanders has given to his closest supporters as well.
Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner (D), a top surrogate who was one of the few invited to meet with Sanders at his home in Vermont on Sunday, told The Hill she doesn’t expect Sanders will end his challenge before the convention.
“It would be a surprise if he did,” Turner said. “He’s cognizant of the math but said he would compete through D.C. and take it to the convention. He’s a man of his word. It’s like my Cleveland Cavaliers — you don’t give up, you keep going all the way no matter what.”
The Cavaliers staved off elimination against the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Oakland on Monday night.
Still, Sanders has said he will do whatever he can to keep Donald Trump out of the White House.
And he is no longer playing for victory. The Sanders campaign has laid off campaign staff and has stopped trying to flip superdelegates into his column.
Rather, Sanders appears to be angling for leverage at the convention in hopes of pushing the party in a more progressive direction on issues like minimum wage, Wall Street regulation, campaign finance reform and free tuition at public universities.
He and his supporters will also likely be looking to push through rules changes at the convention, with a particular aim on eliminating superdelegates.
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz could also become a bargaining chip in the process.
Sanders, who is backing Wasserman Schultz’s Democratic primary challenger in Florida's 23rd Congressional District, reiterated his call for new leadership at the DNC in a press conference earlier in the day.
Sanders and his supporters remain bitter at Wasserman Schultz, believing she lined the party up against them from an early stage in an attempt to pave the way for a Clinton nomination.
In an interview on Tuesday afternoon with NBC’s Chuck Todd, Wasserman Schultz insisted she’d remain chairwoman through at least the end of her term in January of 2017.
"I am planning on continuing to focus all the way through the election to the end of my term on making sure that we can elect Democrats up and down the ballot, especially including the president of the United States,” she said.
The DNC released a statement on Tuesday night congratulating both candidates on finishing the primaries and stressing the need to elect a Democrat to the White House in November.
The statement did not declare that Clinton had become the party’s presumptive nominee.