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Sanders To Work With Clinton But Plans To Compete In D.C.'s Primary


Americans' economic struggles have formed the basis of Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign. The Democratic delegate count now suggests the nomination is out of reach for Sanders. Hillary Clinton effectively claimed the prize this week. Yet, in a rally last night in Washington, D.C, Sanders sounded like a man still determined to be the next president. NPR's Ailsa Chang was there.

AILSA CHANG, BYLINE: It didn't matter that the world outside was telling these people Bernie Sanders' days on the campaign trail are numbered. You could see signs of defiance everywhere, like the way Daniel Shepard's Bernie T-shirt looked so freshly creased, as if it was being worn for the first time, this night of all nights.

Did you just buy that T-shirt today?


CHANG: You did (laughter).

Shepard said he saw a T-shirt vendor trying to get rid of them. They were on deep discount.

SHEPARD: It was definitely cheaper than they are online (laughter).

CHANG: How much are they online?

SHEPARD: Like, 20 bucks.

CHANG: And you got it for how much?


CHANG: You got it for $10?

SHEPARD: Yeah, yeah. So I got two for 20. There you go (laughter) - much better.

CHANG: And it wasn't just the crowd who couldn't un-feel the Bern.


BERNIE SANDERS: Thank you, Washington.


CHANG: Bernie Sanders took the stage last night and acted as if nothing had changed this week, as if Hillary Clinton had not snagged the delegates she needed to take the nomination, as if the president had not just endorsed her hours ago and as if the end was not near for Sanders.


SANDERS: What the punditry thought is that the campaign would not go very far. Well, here we are in mid-June, and we're still standing.


CHANG: The crowd of 3,000 couldn't get enough of it.


UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Chanting) Bernie. Bernie. Bernie. Bernie.

CHANG: They were like concert goers, staring up at the guy on stage and telling him, just play the old stuff. Just play our favorites. And he did.


SANDERS: We have received 8 million individual campaign contributions. Anyone know the average contribution?

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Twenty-seven dollars.

SANDERS: Twenty-seven bucks.

CHANG: Granted, it wasn't like people here were in denial. Grace Harmon of Takoma Park, Md., knew exactly what was coming.

GRACE HARMON: Yesterday, I said, very unhappily, that I'm going to go and vote for Hillary with a barf bag in my hand. And I'm going to maybe have a seizure. And I'm going to hate every moment of it. And I'm going to vote for her.

CHANG: Harmon says she's never forgiven Clinton for her vote on the Iraq War.

HARMON: I will not campaign for her. I'll vote for her, but I'm not going to campaign for her.

CHANG: Because she's at least little better than Donald Trump in your mind?

HARMON: Yes. I feel like her Supreme Court choices might be slightly better than his.

CHANG: And Harmon thinks most people in the Sanders camp right now would admit the same thing. So they say Democrats will get over their infighting come November. Still, John Mantz was really irritated the president endorsed Clinton before the primaries were even over. But it didn't surprise him, he said, because the party never took Sanders seriously.

JOHN MANTZ: The Democratic establishment that works together to fund their own people see him as an outsider. They never accepted him. Yeah, they're pushing him aside, but they never accepted him to begin with.

CHANG: And that's why Mantz says it's not up to Sanders to help unify the party now. He says the senator should stay in the race, not only through the D.C. primary next Tuesday, but through the Democratic Convention in July because Mantz says this is bigger than one election cycle. It's about keeping a movement and its ideas alive. Ailsa Chang, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who hosts All Things Considered along with Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, and Mary Louise Kelly. She landed in public radio after practicing law for a few years.