Five things to watch at first joint Clinton-Sanders rally

Five things to watch at first joint Clinton-Sanders rally
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When Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Krystal Ball credits Gabbard's upswing in 2020 race to 'feckless' Democratic establishment Outsider candidates outpoll insider candidates MORE and Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Overnight Health Care: Top health official defends contract payments to Trump allies | Vaping advocates confident Trump will turn from flavor ban | Sanders gets endorsement from nurses union Krystal Ball credits Gabbard's upswing in 2020 race to 'feckless' Democratic establishment MORE come together for their first joint rally in Portsmouth, N.H., on Tuesday, it is odds-on that Sanders will endorse the former secretary of State’s bid for the presidency. 

In doing so, he will bring down the curtain on a primary campaign that was more competitive than almost anyone expected — and also sometimes fraught and bitter.


Beyond the overwhelming likelihood of the endorsement, what are some other things to watch?


No one doubts that Clinton and Sanders will exchange warm words. But will they look as if they mean them? 

There were serious tensions during the campaign for the Democratic nomination. Clinton suggested the Independent Vermont senator was engaged in sloganeering rather than in putting forth politically plausible ideas. Sanders railed against Clinton, sometimes for polices that he regarded as too timorous but also in ways that touched upon her personal ethics. He was scathing about her refusal to release the transcripts of her paid speeches to Goldman Sachs, for instance.

How Clinton and Sanders interact on Tuesday will be as important as anything they say. 

Will they actually seem at ease in each other’s company or will awkwardness linger? 

Neither candidate has the easy charm of a natural politician, which heightens the possibility for missteps.  

How emphatically will Sanders endorse Clinton?

Sanders has been moving toward an embrace of Clinton recently, while his campaign aides have been emphasizing the progress they have made in moving the Democratic platform in a progressive direction. 

It would be a seismic shock if he did not endorse his primary rival on Tuesday. But endorsements come in different shapes and sizes. 

Will Sanders merely present Clinton as the only option to stop Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump faces high stakes in meeting with Erdoğan amid impeachment drama Democrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report MORE from becoming president? Or will he exude real enthusiasm for the prospect of a second President Clinton?

This isn’t just a matter of personal dynamics. Clinton has had big problems with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party throughout the primary and Sanders bested her consistently among younger voters. 

If Sanders can find a way to fire his base up about the former first lady, it would be a huge help to her as she seeks to win in the fall.

Does Clinton nod to Sanders’s rhetoric?

Clinton, who has identified with the centrist element of the Democratic Party throughout her career, was nudged to the left by Sanders during the primary. She came out in opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and suggested that she would like to see the federal minimum wage rise to $15 per hour — even as she did not quite commit herself to that goal.

More generally, Clinton sought to align herself with liberals in the party who want significant change in American society — a tricky challenge for someone who has been at the center of the national stage for a quarter-century. Perhaps the most memorable formulation came at a CNN town hall in February, where Clinton described herself as “a progressive who gets results.”

She might decide to step up that rhetoric on Tuesday by stressing her common ground with Sanders and hoping to enthuse his supporters. But it is equally possible that she could modulate her language to focus on a general election audience.

What direction does Clinton move on policy?

Much as she would love to enthuse Sanders backers, Clinton is in the thick of the general election now and is looking to appeal to independents and moderate Republicans. So she needs to walk a fine line. 

“A lot of us have always felt like she moved a little too far left, even in the final weeks,” said one longtime Clinton confidante. 

Last week, in the lead-up to Sanders endorsing her, Clinton announced her support for a plan to eliminate tuition for in-state students at public universities and colleges, a proposal very similar to one her Democratic rival had been pushing during the primary. It was a pivot from the position she had long held, saying such a plan was far too expensive. But it was a nod to the work she needs to do to lock up some of the millennials who support Sanders. 

Still, one longtime Clinton adviser said the presumptive nominee will likely allude to some of Sanders’s priorities such as the “importance of paying attention to the interests of workers in trade deals” as well as the need to tackle income inequality. 

Do they talk about unity?

The last time two Democratic rivals met in New Hampshire, they wore a matching shade of blue and their message was simple: Unity. 

Clinton and then-Illinois Sen. Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaSaagar Enjeti rips Buttigieg for praising Obama after misquote Steyer scores endorsement from key New Hampshire activist Saagar Enjeti dismisses Warren, Klobuchar claims of sexism MORE picked the town of Unity — population 1,671 — for their own come-together moment after a bruising primary in 2008. And the theme worked. 

In the end, Obama won over most of Clinton’s supporters, including those hard-liners who had vowed to take her fight all the way to the convention in Denver. 

But there was work to do along the way and Clinton made the appeal very simple to her supporters that day: There’s no other option but voting for Obama. 

Will Clinton mention this moment in history to show that she was once in Sanders’s shoes? 

A couple of times in recent weeks, she has given a nod to being the one who came up short. “I know that feeling well,” she said in a speech last month.