LEBANON, New Hampshire — After a bitter primary battle, Bernie Sanders stood on Monday on a stage flanked by signs that read “Stronger Together” and his message was clear: Democrats must elect Hillary Clinton because Donald Trump has “no core set of values.”
The Vermont senator took to the trail on Labor Day for the first time stumping by himself to support Clinton. He was in familiar territory in New Hampshire, where he’s practically embraced as a native son and won a rousing primary victory early in the year.
In the waning summer warmth, Sanders spoke at the Clinton campaign organized event, making him one of many surrogates out on the trial on Labor Day for the Democratic nominee, including Vice President Biden and former president Bill Clinton.
The senator spoke to a crowd of several hundred, weaving his stump speech at the beginning into a compare and contrast list of what makes Hillary a better candidate than Trump. He spoke some about his primary campaign and thanked New Hampshire voters for their support during the primary, and broached his favorite issues of affordable college tuition, striking down Citizen’s United, and income inequality.
“What are the important issues facing America and what are the positions of the candidates on those issues?… The answer is 100 percent clear that on every issue Hillary Clinton is the superior candidate hands down,” Sanders said to a crowd holding “NH” signs.
He also bluntly told the crowd that he and Secretary Clinton didn’t agree on everything in the final Democratic platform. He pointed specifically to college affordability which he said, “didn’t go quite as far as I wanted,” but was happy enough with the position Clinton finally adopted.
The Democratic convention may have given the impression of party disunity amidst an ousted chairwoman and protesting Bernie supporters, but attendees at today’s rally saw authenticity in Bernie’s message.
Ellen Wood, a corporate finance consultant, was excited to see Sanders take the stage for Clinton and hopes he does more events for her in the future. “He talked about his opinions and how he differed from Hillary. So he wasn’t just wholly jump-ship and abandon his principles.”
Wood voted for Bernie in the primary but is “totally with her” now.
David Frey made this Labor Day a political family event, bringing his wife and two teenage daughters to the rally as well. He’s been a Hillary supporter since the beginning of her candidacy, but thought that Bernie’s message was “a legitimate endorsement of the candidate who did defeat him in the primary.”
“This was in many ways a Bernie speech. He followed in much of the same strip that he normally follows,” Frey said after the rally.
Frey’s 18-year-old daughter, Sophie, is a first time voter who says that she supports Hillary because of her ideals but “mostly because of the fact that she’s not Trump. That’s a huge gold star.”
Sanders, for his part, did not shy away from his criticism of Trump, calling it “inconceivable” that the candidate of a major political party doesn’t agree with the science of climate change and repeated a line he used as a primary candidate that Trump spread bigotry.
“If you look at Donald Trump’s record what you’ll find is this guy is a pathological liar. And what that means — and I’m not talking about a little fib here, and I’m not talking about stretching the truth there. I’m talking about him coming up things in his own mind that do not exist…but that is dangerous,” Sanders told the crowd.
His parting message to the crowd was overwhelming positive for Clinton, saying firmly that she must be elected president. And the crowd loved it.