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Politics & Government

Sanders To Work To Defeat Trump And Transform Democratic Party

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now, in this country, the Democratic presidential race appears to be over, though the man in second place has not quite said it's over. On Tuesday, Bernie Sanders lost the year's final primary to Hillary Clinton. On Wednesday, he and Clinton had a private meeting. Last night, Bernie Sanders gave a speech. NPR's Sam Sanders listened to what he did say.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: It was not a big stadium-filling Sanders rally. He's had a lot of those this campaign.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BERNIE SANDERS: Good evening, and thank you very much for joining me.

S. SANDERS: It was just Bernie Sanders, just him, live streaming with a bit of an echo in front of a blue background with Bernie 2016, his campaign logo, all over it, and below his image these words, the political revolution continues.

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B. SANDERS: Election Days come and go, but political and social revolutions that attempt to transform our society never end.

S. SANDERS: Sanders thanked his supporters, and then he talked about just how much his campaign for president has accomplished.

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B. SANDERS: When we began this campaign a little over a year ago, we had no political organization, no money and very little name recognition.

S. SANDERS: He's right.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

B. SANDERS: Well, a lot has changed over a year.

S. SANDERS: Also true. Sanders won millions of votes, maybe even surprising Sanders himself. But he also came in second in delegates and the popular vote. So this could have been the night Sanders dropped out. He did not. Instead, he hit on just about everything in his political agenda.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

B. SANDERS: It is about ending a campaign finance system which is corrupt and allows billionaires to buy elections. It is about ending the grotesque level of wealth and income inequality. It is about creating an economy that works for all of us.

S. SANDERS: And there was more - Medicare for all - his signature proposal - the plight of minorities in America, immigration reform, infrastructure and more. But Sanders made no mention of continuing to fight for the nomination. Instead, he said his campaign is now focused on defeating Donald Trump. And Sanders talked about how to keep the revolution going, urging his supporters to transform the Democratic Party and run for office.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

B. SANDERS: We need new blood in the political process, and you are that new blood.

S. SANDERS: But in all of this, all 23 minutes of his speech, Bernie Sanders did not endorse Hillary Clinton or say exactly what he'd do at the Democratic Convention.

CHRISTOPHER VAN WAUS: Hello.

S. SANDERS: Hey, can you hear me? It's Sam.

I talked with lots of Sanders supporters via Skype after the speech, like Christopher Van Waus.

Did you like it?

VAN WAUS: I don't know. It was little underwhelming, I guess. The audio quality on it was pretty bad. They must have laid off the audio guy already.

S. SANDERS: Sanders supporter Laurel Basma actually had a party for the live stream.

LAUREL BASMA: We were hooping and hollering to different things that Bernie was saying, and agreeing, and saying mhmm, uh-huh. We had him on a projector on the wall, and it was just - it was beautiful.

S. SANDERS: She loved the speech. And she said Bernie should not drop out.

BASMA: No - personally, no, no - not in my opinion.

S. SANDERS: When I asked her how she'd vote, what she'd do in November, she wouldn't say.

BASMA: We're not there yet.

S. SANDERS: I also talked with Jack Thomas Wheatley.

JACK: And I was writing down, like, what he's saying. And I almost thought of it as, like, a long break-up.

S. SANDERS: Wheatley had volunteered for the Sanders campaign for months but now supports Clinton. He had a lot of thoughts on the election and the Democratic Party - everything. But here's the thing. Jack Thomas Wheatley is only 16.

You know, I just realized, you can't vote.

JACK: No. No, I can't. But I am the president of the debate team at our school.

S. SANDERS: Whatever his age, Wheatley said Sanders can still change things through people like himself.

JACK: It's not just going to be he got everyone for this election. It's he's going to get everyone for the next couple elections. People are now listening to what they have to say. I've talked to more people now that our younger about politics than I ever have before, just because they've been interested in what he's been saying.

S. SANDERS: And maybe that's what it's about now, that new blood Bernie Sanders mentioned in his speech, like Jack Thomas Wheatley said, for the next election, and the next one and the next. Sam Sanders, no relation, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.