RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Just how big of a tent is the Democratic Party? The primary exposed some huge differences between the moderate and progressive wings of the party. But Joe Biden came out on top. And Democrats know they have to come together to beat President Trump. So yesterday, Biden met with Bernie Sanders on the left. And they came up with a long list of policy recommendations to try to unify ahead of the convention. Senator Sanders spoke to NPR.
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BERNIE SANDERS: Well, the goal of the task force were to move the Biden campaign into a progressive direction as possible. And I think we did that.
MARTIN: OK. Let's truth squad that a bit with NPR political correspondent Scott Detrow. Hi, Scott.
SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Hey, good morning.
MARTIN: OK, so Bernie Sanders claims to be pushing Joe Biden to the left. I mean, is he? How so?
DETROW: He is. This was an effort by both Biden and Sanders to try to keep the party together, to not repeat 2016 where progressives were not fully onboard with Hillary Clinton. So Sanders representatives and Biden representatives worked on six big policy areas. And they came up with this report that really reads like a progressive wish list across a wide range of areas. Just to tick off a couple, it calls for zeroing out net greenhouse gas emissions across the entire country by 2050, funding universal prekindergarten across the country. These recommendations would push Biden to the left but not completely transform his platform. I talked to Faiz Shakir about this. He managed Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign. And he helped coordinate these task forces.
FAIZ SHAKIR: We did not have any impressions that we were going to turn Joe Biden into Bernie Sanders. That was not going to happen. And that did not happen.
DETROW: So these are recommendations. Biden's campaign did work closely on them. But so far publicly, they've only committed to reviewing the recommendations, not fully embrace them just yet.
MARTIN: OK, what about health care? I mean, we heard this as such a dividing line in the Democratic primary between moderates and the progressives, especially on "Medicare for All."
DETROW: Yeah, that's a great example. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal talked about this. She co-chaired the health care task force. She really wants Medicare for All. But she said, look, the Medicare for All candidate did not win the primary. She still feels like progressives got a lot out of this in the world of health care, including really expanding the benefits and lowering the costs of the public health insurance program that Biden would push for and making sure that Medicare would administer it, not a private health insurance company.
PRAMILA JAYAPAL: I feel like I can go and legitimately sell this as something that the movement achieved, something that we were able to do that pushed Vice President Biden further than he has been.
MARTIN: So, Scott, how does the Biden campaign see this effort? How important is it actually for Biden to win over these progressive Sanders voters?
DETROW: I think if Biden is elected president, this is very important. It's been very clear he wants to get a lot of this stuff done. But looking at the blunt political question, I think it's actually less important than it seemed before. Joe Biden has built a really big lead over President Trump. And a lot of that has to do with independent, more moderate voters. And a lot of recent data shows that progressives are actually onboard with Biden already. That's less excitement about Joe Biden and more excitement about the possibility of beating President Trump. So Biden has been running kind of a cautious campaign, doing maybe one speech a week. He will be giving a speech today, actually. His campaign is billing it as a key speech on the economy this afternoon.
MARTIN: Do we know anything about that?
DETROW: Well, specifically on the economy, his campaign says that he's going to call for a lot of things that Democrats in Congress have been pushing for recently, providing federal aid to state and local governments facing these massive budget gaps. It's extending unemployment benefits. He's going to call again for something he's been talking about before - creating a big core of public health workers to create jobs and also boost the number of contact tracers out there trying to track infections.
MARTIN: All right, NPR's Scott Detrow for us. Thanks, Scott. We appreciate it.
DETROW: Thank you.
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