In the surrender heard round the world, Bernie Sanders stepped back from his repeated promise to stick it out until the convention, formally endorsing Hillary Clinton last week. That sound you heard was millions of BernieOrBust folks simultaneously screaming and gasping. On some level, they knew it was coming, but the reality of a guy who, less than a month ago was excoriating Clinton, standing behind and beside her was too much for some voters to manage. On that day both the Hillary camp and the NeverHillary camp gained a slew of adherents.
The challenge for Clinton is to move some – in fact, many – out of that Never camp and, however reluctantly, over to her side. The messaging and the optics in this transaction must be precise, calculated and very, very careful.
So far, the former opponents are playing very nice together. Clinton and Sanders are working together to determine the convention nominating process. Well, “negotiating” would be the more accurate term, but even that would have been unthinkable a few short weeks ago.
One of the biggest questions still left unanswered is “how” Clinton will receive the nomination. Will it be by unanimous nomination after a full state roll call or will every state go ahead and cast their votes to be counted. Sanders made his position on this fairly clear earlier last week, telling the AP:
“I think it’s appropriate that every state have the right to call its votes…”
If there is to be an “acclamation” nomination, Sanders would have that happen after every state voices its votes. This would, of course, help Bernie save face, but the optics and PR could be important for Clinton as well. Going state by state, the Bernie supporters will hear their votes, literally, being counted as his “win” states are announced. Then, after the majority go to Clinton, she could be named the nominee and accept graciously.
Handling things this way would help bridge the considerable gap that exists right now between Clinton and even those Sanders supporters inclined to vote for her. Most of them still detest what Clinton stands for, and that hasn’t changed a bit even when their guy raised her hand.