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Nurses' Group Maintains Its Support Of Sanders Over Clinton


The California primary is next Tuesday. And among the possibilities is that Bernie Sanders could win California and Hillary Clinton could clinch the nomination all on the same night. Democrats are divided. Governor Jerry Brown, who was sort of Bill Clinton's Bernie Sanders in 1992, endorsed Hillary Clinton this week, saying this is no time for Democrats to keep fighting each other. RoseAnn DeMoro is the executive director of National Nurses United. She's been campaigning for Bernie Sanders and joined us from the studios of Youth Radio in Oakland. Thanks so much for being with us.

ROSEANN DEMORO: Well, thank you for having me.

SIMON: Is party unity important to you?

DEMORO: At what cost?

SIMON: I'm just asking the question in an open way, any costs you want to ascribe...

DEMORO: If it's party unity to essentially validate an agenda that's harmed America so badly over the last several decades, then party unity is irrelevant. What's relevant is what the party stands for, what the soul of the party is. And so this isn't like a basketball game - the Democrats are better than the Republicans. This is far deeper. And it's a far greater moment in history, frankly. I mean, it's the social movement in the Sanders campaign to heal America, not to continue the suffering.

SIMON: What issues inspire you to support Bernie Sanders?

DEMORO: Well, first of all, you know, with the nurses, every hour, every day are stories about the suffering of patients. And every social problem presents in the hospital. And even with the new mandate of the ACA, which has some positives, obviously, what we're finding is that the quality is decreasing. The premiums are increasing. Patients are cutting their pills in half. The out-of-pocket costs are enormous.

I mean, our health shouldn't be a commodity. And that's what's happened. And so fighting for a single-payer system has become a bedrock issue in this campaign. It's always been a bedrock issue for the nurses nationally. And when we joined with the campaign, Bernie Sanders amplified all of the issues of the nurses.

SIMON: Hillary Clinton, who served the Obama administration and quotes the president a lot on the stump, says that it's just not practical to expect - in the political landscape today to expect the U.S. Congress to approve a single-payer health care system. And she wants to expand the Affordable Care Act. That's...

DEMORO: Hillary Clinton...

SIMON: ...Not good enough for you?

DEMORO: Well, first of all...

SIMON: Yeah?

DEMORO: I believe she lacks political will to get the job done, which is one of the reasons that the nurses are supporting Bernie Sanders. If our health isn't achievable, then what's she doing running for president? You don't give up on health. You can give up on a lot of things. And there's compromises to be made. But when it comes to the health of my children, of our families, of our communities, you don't give up on people.

SIMON: You know, of course, that the math is against Senator Sanders becoming the Democratic candidate.

DEMORO: I - you know, I look at the things far beyond math. I look at the mass momentum, just like in sports. I mean, Bernie - you know, we look at sports teams...

SIMON: Hillary Clinton has won, at the moment, I believe, something like 3 million votes more than Senator Sanders.

DEMORO: The momentum Bernie has and the role of the superdelegates in the convention can be enormous because the threshold question is going to be, with the mass momentum behind him and the motivated voters - who is going to beat Donald Trump? Bernie brings with him the critical vote, the independent vote. He has inspired a new generation, a generation that will ultimately control this country - and thank God for them because they are the ones who are going to carry this vote for the Democratic Party. And if it's not Bernie Sanders, I do believe they'll be massive disaffection.

SIMON: Massive disaffection that translates to not voting for the Democratic candidate?

DEMORO: To not voting, yes.

SIMON: Would not voting, as you suggest you might not do - would that amount to giving Mr. Trump just a greater possibility of winning if you don't vote for Hillary Clinton?

DEMORO: You know, I don't know how I'm going to vote if that is - if that happens. And I don't know what the nurses association's going to do because that's a discussion that's later on down the line if Hillary Clinton were to prevail. I mean, ultimately, what you're asking is - are we going to choose between what we would consider, or most people would consider, the lesser of two evils? And I just - you know, I think it's early. I think it's early. And I - you know, honestly, this isn't business as usual. This isn't what we need in America to just say - oh, sorry. Your team lost. Go home. That's not how it's going to be.

SIMON: I don't think Hillary Clinton's supporters are saying - your team lost, go home. On the contrary, I think they are saying your team is about to lose. Join our team. They're not asking you to go home. And I'm not asking you go ahead.


DEMORO: And I'd ask them to tell me what Hillary Clinton represents.

SIMON: RoseAnn DeMoro is executive director of National Nurses United. Thanks so much for being with us.

DEMORO: (Laughter) Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.