How Will Bernie Sanders Supporters Vote?
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
As the race for president tightens, Hillary Clinton's campaign hopes to win over millions of people who voted for Bernie Sanders in the primaries. Senator Sanders, of course, has campaigned for Hillary Clinton. But what about his legions of supporters? We turn now to Jeff Weaver - a familiar voice - the senator's former chief of staff, campaign manager and now president of the group Our Revolution, a political organization. He joins us in our studios. Thanks very much for being with us.
JEFF WEAVER: Oh, my pleasure, happy to be here.
SIMON: Can you tell us who you're going to vote for?
WEAVER: I'm voting for Hillary Clinton. I think I've made that clear on a few occasions. You know, the country now really faces the choice between going forward or going backwards. I obviously supported Bernie Sanders in the - in the primary process. And I think of all the candidates he would have been the best president, but he's not going to be on the general election ballot unfortunately. And so people have a choice to vote for Hillary Clinton, to move us forward, or to vote for Donald Trump and move us tremendously backwards.
SIMON: Do you have an impression as to what a lot of other supporters of Senator Sanders are doing?
WEAVER: You know, it depends on which group of supporters you're talking about. I think certainly the great mass of supporters of Bernie Sanders will vote for Hillary Clinton, understanding that she provides us the best opportunity to move forward, even if it's not quite as fast as some of us would like. Certainly there are some groups of supporters of Senator Sanders who were very disappointed with the loss of the primary process. I think Secretary Clinton has a lot of work to do to bring on the particular millennial voters who supported Senator Sanders in such large numbers.
SIMON: What would you hope she would do?
WEAVER: There's been tremendous focus so far on the negative aspects of each candidate's opponent. So the Trump campaign launches an attack on the Clinton campaign. The Clinton campaign launches an attack on the Trump campaign. And I think for many millennial voters, they say telling me the other person is bad is not enough. I already know the other person is bad. In fact, I may think everybody's bad. So they really want to hear what they heard from Bernie Sanders, which is a positive vision. Really, the Clinton campaign needs to pivot now and speak much more forcefully about her positive agenda for the future.
SIMON: On what issues?
WEAVER: Well, I think, for instance, college education was a incredibly important issue during the campaign. Senator Sanders had a program for free tuition at public colleges and universities. Secretary Clinton...
SIMON: A program that a lot of economists said was absolutely unaffordable.
WEAVER: Well, I don't think that that's true, frankly. I mean, the question is, are you willing to raise taxes on the wealthy? Are you willing to make corporations pay their fair share? Many things become affordable if you're willing to do that. But this college plan in post-primary negotiations, the Clinton campaign and with our campaign - and I was certainly involved in those discussions - came up with a hybrid, which is free tuition at public colleges and universities for families making $125,000 or less, which would be over 80 percent of families in America, as well as a number of the debt forgiveness and mitigation provisions that were in the secretary's plan during the primaries.
And that's a very powerful program and I think speaks to the anxiety of a lot of young people who come out of college with a tremendous amount of debt, tens and tens of thousands, or in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, and find themselves in an economic market where it's very difficult to make the money needed to pay those loans in addition to carry on one's life, whether it's to get married or buy a house or a car or what have you.
SIMON: What's your priority now, electing Hillary Rodham Clinton president of the United States or enlarging your political movement?
WEAVER: Well, I think the goal of Our Revolution is the same as was the goal of...
SIMON: Our Revolution is the title of your group.
WEAVER: Yes, yes, exactly - is the same as was the goal of Senator Sanders in the presidential campaign, which is to transform America. We have to move America in a much more progressive direction. We need to deal with income inequality. We need to create a more equitable society, both in terms of economics, in terms of race, in terms of social issues. So that's the goal of the organization is to move the country forward. Now, my contention is is that electing Hillary Clinton does move the country forward.
SIMON: Jeff Weaver, former campaign manager for Bernie Sanders, thanks so much for being with us.
WEAVER: Always a pleasure, thank you.
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