Democrats in Washington have begun discussing how to encourage Sen. Bernie Sanders to end his campaign without alienating his legions of supporters, as party leaders grow eager to unite the party behind Hillary Clinton and provide a more robust defense for her candidacy.
In private conversations on Capitol Hill, senior Democrats are weighing how to persuade Sanders to step aside without appearing as if they are trying to strong-arm him out of the race. In a phone call last month, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid made the case to Sanders why it would make sense for him to leave the race after New Jersey and California vote on June 7, according to sources familiar with the conversation.
The widespread view, according to interviews with senators, House members and senior party officials, is that Sanders needs to see the writing on the wall himself: That he has no mathematical possibility to win the race and would be better-served to see his agenda enacted if he urged his backers to support Clinton.
“We will walk out of our convention with a nominee,” Rep. Xavier Becerra, a California Democrat and active Clinton surrogate, told CNN. “We should be able to walk into the convention in a consolidating mode.”