Where Do Democrats Stand As Far As Unifying The Party?
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And this morning, we've been reporting on Hillary Clinton's string of decisive primary victories yesterday in California, New Jersey and New Mexico, which have allowed her to claim a new role - presumptive democratic presidential nominee. Her runner-up, Bernie Sanders, is still not conceding defeat, pledging to fight on until the convention in July. In a moment, we'll hear from a Sanders backer, Representative Raul Grijalva of Arizona.
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
But first, we have Senator Sherrod Brown on the line. He's a Democrat from Ohio and a backer of Hillary Clinton. Good morning.
SHERROD BROWN: Good morning, Renee. Thank you for having me.
MONTAGNE: OK. Well, thank you for joining us. How do you feel about Secretary Clinton's showing last night, especially in California and New Jersey?
BROWN: Well, I feel great. And I - watching her speech last night, the emotion - her emotion and the emotion of the people in the crowd and my emotion watching it, my wife's emotion and thinking about my three daughters, our two granddaughters - and it was a - it was a wonderful moment for our country. And it's a wonderful moment, certainly, for her and her family, but especially for our country. There's just nothing more exciting than that.
MONTAGNE: All right. A first - she is the first woman to lead a major party into the - into the - into November. You're a friend and colleague Bernie Sanders in the Senate. I know you agree with him on some issues, including trade. But just briefly, how has he shifted the tone of this race?
BROWN: I think that he's - I give him credit for speaking about issues that matter, especially addressing inequality and trade and Wall Street. I also - I've worked on all of those issues with Senator Sanders. I've helped to advise Hillary Clinton's campaign on these issues. I'm - I trust her absolutely on trade and manufacturing, on Wall Street and moving this country in the right direction.
I saw yesterday that Jeb Hensarling, the chairman of the Republican - chairman of the banking committee and the House Financial Services Committee - went to meet with Donald Trump, unveiled - so in the last couple of days, a terrible bill that would scale back all the Wall Street reforms and stripping the consumer agency, attacking Dodd-Frank. I mean, it tells me so much about this race (unintelligible). Dodd-Frank will want to make it stronger. And Trump is going to want to go in the other direction and just emasculate the reform to make (unintelligible).
MONTAGNE: All right. Well, Trump - I'm sorry. I just want to apologize. The line is getting very bad. But let me ask you a last question. Trump, of course, is the big challenge for Hillary Clinton. But were you disappointed that Senator Sanders did not drop out last night, throw his support behind - behind Hillary Clinton?
BROWN: Well, I don't know what happens the next few days. I'm - I fully expect Bernie to be vigorously, strongly supporting Hillary Clinton. It's going to be on his timetable. Of course, we'd all prefer it earlier rather than later. But I am sure that Bernie will be there campaigning in Ohio and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and Iowa and all over the country. And I expect that. I'm certain of that. But he is just as afraid of Donald Trump as many in the country are.
MONTAGNE: Thank you very much for joining us.
BROWN: Of course, thank you.
MONTAGNE: That's Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio and supporter of Hillary Clinton.
GREENE: And let's bring in the voice now of a supporter of Bernie Sanders. It's Congressman Raul Grijalva from Arizona on the line. Now, Congressman, good morning.
RAUL GRIJALVA: Good morning. Thank you.
GREENE: So - well, thanks for coming here. Hearing from Senator Brown there sort of hoping, sooner rather than later, that Bernie Sanders may decide to drop out and full his - give his full support to Hillary Clinton, is that going to happen anytime soon?
GRIJALVA: I anticipate it. I really do - that, you know - I've always said that Bernie will do the right thing. And he will - and unifying this party and taking that into the general election and making sure that Secretary Clinton is - prevails as - if that's how it ends up going, then I think he's going to do the right thing. And I believe that there is part of the unfinished business and, you know, the historic night for Secretary Clinton.
And I thought - I thought that California would be a bastion where we could go into the convention with more momentum. But it doesn't look that way. And I - and I think that all these discussions among the - among Bernie's campaigners are going - ongoing. And he's got meetings on Thursday with the president and with leadership here in Washington. And I think Bernie, at some point, will look at it and make the right decision.
GREENE: Well - especially without winning California and getting that momentum that you were hoping for, I mean, is - is this the moment in the coming days? Do you think he should have this meeting with the president and begin supporting Hillary Clinton and not take this fight all the way to the convention?
GRIJALVA: Well, I think there's still things to do at the convention. But I think - the platform committee meets for the first time. I'll be there today to talk about some of the platform items for the Democratic Party and going to the convention and giving. And I've said this over and over again. Now, good, bad or indifferent, you know, the - Bernie's campaign has galvanized a good 44-45 percent of the electorate that voted in this primary - Democratic primary.
And that message and the person himself and his supporters, I think, merit an opportunity at the convention to be there, to have their day in the sun and to - and to help in the unifying process because part of the unification is going to be how we integrate Bernie's supporters - how we integrate that message into the overall message going into November. And I think there's still work to be done on that. And I think it's work that can be done.
GREENE: Congressman, I want to play a little tape, right now, of Donald Trump last night speaking to supporters in Westchester, N.Y. He seemed to be making an appeal to Bernie Sanders voters.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
DONALD TRUMP: To all of those Bernie Sanders voters, who have been left out in the cold by a rigged system of superdelegates, we welcome you with open arms.
GREENE: And, Congressman, my colleague, Sam Sanders, actually spoke to a Sanders supporter named Dutch Merrick at an event last night, who said he will probably vote for Donald Trump now that - that, you know, if, indeed, Hillary Clinton is the nominee. What do you tell voters like that, who are so passionate about Bernie Sanders and aren't being drawn by Hillary Clinton? I mean, couldn't this damage the party if they go to Donald Trump?
GRIJALVA: Yeah, it could. And - but I think I would tell that supporter to listen to Bernie's speech last night when he said with the struggle goes on. But he also said, we have built a movement around economic, racial, environmental and gay justice and rights. And I would remind that voter that Donald Trump is the exact opposite of the agenda that Bernie's been promoting for the last nine and a half months to 10 months.
GREENE: OK. We've been speaking to Congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona, who is a supporter of Bernie Sanders. Congressman, thanks so much for taking the time this morning. We really appreciate it.
GRIJALVA: Thank you very much for your time. Bye.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.