Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says he expects to endorse presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the near future. But before that happens, Sanders says he has more work to do to make certain that the Democratic platform reflects his key economic priorities.
Sanders' statements this week clearly indicate that it's not a question if he is going to endorse Hillary Clinton — but when.
Speaking on MSNBC Wednesday night, Sanders said he's very pleased that Clinton has expanded her higher education proposal to include some of Sanders' plan to offer free tuition at public colleges.
Sanders says he hopes to make similar progress with Clinton on a number of economic issues. He says making that kind of progress will set the stage for his endorsement of Clinton.
"We are now working with the Clinton campaign," Sanders said. "We came together on higher education, we're working on some other ideas and I think at the end of the day there is going to be a coming together and we're going to go forward together and not only defeat Trump but defeat him badly."
But Sanders says there is still work to be done to influence the Democratic platform that is now being drafted.
"What my job is to do is to do everything I can to address the major crises facing this country in terms of income and wealth inequality," Sanders said. "And I am going to use all the leverage that I have to try to make those changes."
Middlebury College political science professor Matt Dickinson says Sanders is sticking to his belief that the Democratic Party needs to be transformed on some basic economic issues.
"As soon as he endorses he pretty much loses whatever remaining leverage he has over the platform," Dickinson said. "So I can understand why he's been reluctant to endorse so far and he can argue that his reluctance to do so has yielded some benefits in terms of concessions on the platform."
And Dickinson says a Sanders endorsement, as early as next week, comes at a very good time for Clinton.
"It will shift the focus away from discussion over her emails and the degree to which the FBI and Justice Department is politically influenced not to prosecute and so on and it will turn the focus instead to the way that the party has come together behind her," Dickerson says.
Dickinson says it's not clear how enthusiastically Sanders will endorse Clinton because some of his supporters might be disappointed if Sanders embraces a political culture that he strongly criticized during his year long campaign.