Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersMcConnell warns Biden not to 'outsource' Supreme Court pick to 'radical left' Briahna Joy Gray discusses Pelosi's 2022 re-election announcement Ocasio-Cortez: Supporting Sinema challenge by someone like Gallego would be easy decision MORE (I-Vt.) on Monday night urged his former primary supporters to back former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenCourt nixes offshore drilling leases auctioned by Biden administration Laquan McDonald's family pushes for federal charges against officer ahead of early release Biden speaks with Ukrainian president amid Russian threat MORE, warning that progressive values are on the line in November.
Sanders, speaking as part of the virtual Democratic National Convention, warned that President TrumpDonald TrumpMark Walker to stay in North Carolina Senate race Judge lays out schedule for Eastman to speed up records processing for Jan. 6 panel Michael Avenatti cross-examines Stormy Daniels in his own fraud trial MORE is "leading us down the path to authoritarianism," and that if Democrats lose in November "the price of failure is just too great to imagine."
"We need Joe Biden as our next president. ... If Donald Trump is reelected all the progress we have made will be in jeopardy," the Vermont senator said.
"My friends, I say to you, and to everyone who supported other candidates in this primary and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election. The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake. We must come together, defeat Donald Trump and elect Joe Biden and Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHarris discusses pandemic, migration during visit with new Honduran president Biden has done just three local interviews in first year in office Clyburn predicts Supreme Court contender J. Michelle Childs would get GOP votes MORE as our next president and vice president," he continued.
Sanders's speech on Monday night is likely his most-seen appearance since he ended his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in April, shortly after which he threw his support behind Biden.
Sanders, during his speech, touted the wins garnered by his supporters during his 2016 and 2020 presidential bids, saying that they had "moved this country together in a bold new direction" and that the "movement continues and is getting stronger every day."
He specifically pointed to Biden's support for raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, for unions and for fighting climate change as evidence of wins by the party's progressive flank in recent years. On his signature issue of health care, Sanders noted that while he and Biden disagreed "on the best path to get universal coverage" Biden "has a plan that will greatly expand health care."
"We must build a nation that is more equitable, more compassionate and more inclusive. I know that Joe Biden will begin that fight on day one," Sanders said.
But Sanders largely used the roughly eight-minute speech, one of the longest of the night, to paint the November election and the choice between Trump and Biden as a fight for the future of the country.
"This election is the most important in the modern history of this country. In response to the unprecedented set of crises we face, we need an unprecedented response — a movement, like never before, of people who are prepared to stand up and fight for democracy and decency — and against greed, oligarchy and authoritarianism," Sanders said.
Sanders added that "under this administration authoritarianism has taken root in our country" and that Biden would end the "coddling of white nationalists, the racist dog-whistling, the religious bigotry and the ugly attacks on women."
Sanders, a progressive firebrand known for rankling his colleagues at times, also trained his firepower at Trump over the president's handling of the months-long coronavirus pandemic. The president has garnered bipartisan criticism for his slow response to the virus; more than 170,000 people in the U.S. have died, with more than 5 million testing positive.
"Nero fiddled while Rome burned," Sanders said. "Trump golfs."