Clarence Fanto | The Bottom Line: Will Sanders cross the bridge Warren has built?

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LENOX >> A big sigh of relief was heard from blue staters at week's end as President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren offered their anticipated ringing endorsements for Hillary Clinton as the presumed Democratic candidate for president — a glass-ceiling explosion that will loom large when the histories of the 2016 campaign are written.

Obama, riding a wave of renewed popularity with approval ratings just above 50 percent, was effusive in his praise of his onetime rival whom he tapped as Madame Secretary. A long way from his dismissive "you're likable enough, Hillary" during the 2008 primaries.

"I know how hard this job can be," he said in a White House video. "That's why I know Hillary will be so good at it. In fact, I don't think there's ever been someone so qualified to hold this office."

But Warren, who had remained steadfast in her neutrality until Thursday night, really tipped the scales in a live cable news appearance and a Boston Globe interview as she reached out to skeptical progressives still feeling the Bern and refusing to let go of the dream.

Passionate and fiery as questioned by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, the Massachusetts Democrat quivered with excitement as she declared: "I'm ready. I am ready to get in this fight and work my heart out for Hillary Clinton to become the next president of the United States — and to make sure that Donald Trump never gets anyplace close to the White House."

Sure enough, speculation spread that Warren might be open to considering a vice presidential nomination if asked. A private one-hour meeting between Clinton and Warren on Friday only lit the explosive fuse of rumors and, perhaps, wishful thinking.

According to CBS News, the two discussed working together in order to advance a progressive agenda and stop Donald Trump.

Maddow had tiptoed around the issue during the interview, asking Warren a hypothetical question that if she were tapped to be Clinton's running mate, does she think she could step in and be commander-in-chief if needed. Warren responded: "Yes, I do."

With polls showing Clinton and Trump in a statistical dead heat, nothing would gladden the hearts of reluctant Clinton voters more than Warren's presence on the ticket. It's crucial to corral the naive Bernie or Bust diehards, perhaps 25 to 30 percent of the Vermont senator's supporters, many of whom are political independents. Some of them threaten to vote for Trump, but by Nov. 8 it can be presumed that they might think better of that.

Warren is the natural bridge between the Sanderistas and Clintonians, and she was unstinting in her praise of his campaign, since she shares many of his views. She's certainly correct in observing that Sanders "took these issues and he really thrust them into the spotlight," bringing in millions of young voters into the Democratic Party which he had joined immediately ahead of launching his race.

"I take my cue on every part of this from Bernie himself and what he said right at the beginning what this is about, what we're doing here is about millions of people across this country, millions of people who work hard every day and just keep getting slammed," Warren declared with fierce intensity. "It is not about one candidate. It's not even about one election. It's about all of us coming together to help fight, to level the playing field to make sure that everybody gets a fighting chance."

Let's hope she's right in her prediction that most Sanders supporters will vote for Clinton. "The way I see this is that there is a very big and important home here," said Warren, noting that if Trump wins the White House and Republicans continue to control Congress, President Obama's health insurance and financial regulations such as the Dodd-Frank act will be repealed. Then there's the open seat on the Supreme Court.

Sanders supporters continue to complain about an alleged rigged system, hinting that Clinton captured the nomination with the connivance of superdelegates,

"I just want to be sure I get this on the table, and get this on the table early: Hillary Clinton won. And she won because she's a fighter. She's out there; she's tough," Warren said.

Indisputable facts: Clinton won the popular vote in the primaries with 16.2 million to 12.3 million for Sanders. That's a 56 to 42 percent landslide margin. She won a majority of the pledged delegates and was the victor in 28 states, compared to 22 for Sanders.

It's high time for Sanders to give up his now quixotic campaign, at least after Tuesday's inconsequential D.C. primary, and rally 'round the winner for the sake of the nation.

Otherwise, as bipartisan political adviser David Gergen has said, "it's a blown opportunity to build bridges that are going to be extremely important in the fall."

Gergen, who has advised four Democratic and Republican presidents, put it bluntly but accurately when he told reporters that Sanders risks becoming "a grumpy old man."

He did run an amazing campaign and deserves a prime-time spotlight at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia next month. Some of his proposals should be considered favorably for the party platform. His proposal to do away with superdelegates has great merit.

But if he intends to do everything in his power to defeat Trump, as he has often declared, it's high time for Sanders to rise to the occasion with all cylinders blasting.

Contact Clarence Fanto at cfanto@yahoo.com


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