U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders threw his support behind fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House on Tuesday, a boost for the former secretary of state as she prepares to face off with Republican rival Donald Trump in the Nov. 8 presidential election.
“Secretary Clinton has won the Democratic nominating process and I congratulate her for that. She will be the Democratic nominee for president," said Sanders during a Clinton campaign rally in New Hampshire. "And I intend to do everything I can to make certain she will be the next president of the United States.”
"This campaign is about the needs of American people and adressing the very serious crisis that we face," Sanders continued. "And there is no doubt in my mind as we head into Novemeber, Hillary Clinton is the best candidate to do that."
The endorsement from Sanders ends a bitterly fought battle for the Democratic nomination that split the party over education, healthcare and climate change, and comes after Clinton offered Sanders a handful of policy concessions on those issues in recent weeks.
At the rally, the pair appeared together to discuss a shared "commitment to building an America that is stronger together and an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top," according to statements released Monday by both campaigns.
Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said ahead of the event that the rally would be the first of many in which Sanders will "be out there stumping for the Democratic nominee."
Sanders had been under pressure for weeks from Democratic Party officials to throw his weight behind Clinton after she locked up the required number of delegates last month with a string of wins in state-by-state primary contests, but had resisted, citing policy differences.
Clinton needs Sanders' supporters to boost her chances against Trump in her run for the White House. Only about 40 percent of Sanders' supporters say they would vote for her, according to recent Reuters/Ipsos polling.
Weaver said that despite Sanders' backing of Clinton, he would likely still press on with his efforts to reform the Democratic Party nominating process after a contentious primary season, pushing to open primaries to independent voters and change the roles of superdelegates, party stalwarts who can support a nominee of their choosing regardless of how people voted in their districts.