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Biden Campaign Manager Surveys The Path Ahead To Democratic Nomination


Former Vice President Joe Biden now has a clear path to win the Democratic nomination for president, a fact that even his rival, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, seems to be acknowledging.


BERNIE SANDERS: While our campaign has won the ideological debate, we are losing the debate over electability.

CHANG: Kate Bedingfield is Biden's deputy campaign manager, and she joins us now.


KATE BEDINGFIELD: Hi. Thanks for having me.

CHANG: I want to come back to Bernie Sanders in a moment, but I first want to ask you, what do you think made the difference for Biden in Michigan last night?

BEDINGFIELD: Well, you know, I think people are really looking for somebody who can restore a sense of dignity and empathy to the White House. I think they know Biden. I think they have a real connection with him. I think they know that he understands their lives. They need somebody who knows what it's like to be a, you know, middle-class family in this country. And he understands the challenges that they're up against.

So, you know, I think it's the power of his personal connection with voters, his story and the fact that they know that he's somebody who's been in the White House who has a record of making progressive change. They saw him do it with President Obama, and they know that he can do it again. So I think that that is part of what people are responding to and what really helped put him over the top.

CHANG: Well, speaking to his connection with people who might have still wanted to - or still want to support someone like Bernie Sanders, let's turn to some of Sanders' comments today. He did say in a press conference that he would support Biden should Biden become the nominee. But Sanders seemed to be laying out some conditions. I mean, he had a list of questions, the kinds of things he says he's going to be asking Biden at the debate on Sunday. Here's one issue that he brought up.


SANDERS: Joe, what are you going to do to end the absurdity of the United States of America being the only major country on earth where health care is not a human right?

CHANG: So let me ask you, do you think your boss is open to adopting some of Bernie Sanders' priorities in order to get his endorsement?

BEDINGFIELD: Well, you know, I think we've had a really robust debate about health care across the course of this primary. And I think that Biden has laid out a plan that will add a public option to Obamacare. That is an achievable plan that will ensure that everybody in this country has access to health care. It's the fastest...

CHANG: But not willing to go as far as Bernie Sanders would go.

BEDINGFIELD: Well, he believes - well, it's - I think it's not a question going as far. I think it's a question of he believes that this is the best plan and the best, you know, most efficient way to get to universal coverage is to build on Obamacare, to add a public option. And, you know, we've - I think we've had a very - as I said, a very robust debate about that policy, debate across the course of this primary. And I think the bulk of Democratic voters, you know, believe that Joe Biden has the right plan and the right vision on this issue.

CHANG: Well, there's still the question about whether Joe Biden will be able to win over people who want to support Bernie Sanders. I mean, Sanders points out that younger voters, Latino voters are big part of his coalition and that they're the future of the Democratic Party. How does Joe Biden plan to win over those specific voters?

BEDINGFIELD: Sure. Well, I think, you know, I truly believe there is more that unites us than divides us as Democratic voters. And I think for, you know, for Sanders supporters who may be looking around, you know, I want them to know, we as a campaign want them to know that they have a home with Joe Biden. I think we have shared goals, you know, shared progressive goals. And I think, you know, if Joe Biden is elected president and gets to enact his agenda, he'll be the most progressive president in American history.

So, you know, we are certainly, you know, hopeful that Sanders supporters will want to come out and support Joe Biden. I think that Biden has spent the, you know, entirety of this campaign talking about the need to build coalitions, to bring people together. His entire, you know, his entire political life has been about bringing people together, bringing people in.

CHANG: But is there anything that you can identify within the Sanders agenda that Biden might consider adopting?

BEDINGFIELD: Well, I think that there are a lot of incredibly admirable goals. And I think, you know, that there are a lot of places where the Biden agenda overlaps heavily with the Sanders agenda. And I think...

CHANG: And we will have to leave it there. That is Kate Bedingfield. She's the deputy campaign manager for former Vice President Joe Biden.

Thank you.

BEDINGFIELD: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.