US Democrat Bernie Sanders says he will vote for rival Hillary Clinton in presidential election: MSNBC

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at an event at Town Hall in New York, on June 23, 2016.
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at an event at Town Hall in New York, on June 23, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - United States Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said on Friday (June 24) that he would vote for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, mainly as a way to stop Republican Donald Trump from winning the White House.

The move comes after weeks of pressure on Sen Sanders, the US senator from Vermont, from Democratic party officials to endorse Mrs Clinton since she locked up the nomination this month with a string of wins in state-by-state primary contests.

Asked if he would vote for Mrs Clinton in November, Sanders told MSNBC television: "Yes. The issue right here is I'm going to do everything I can to defeat Donald Trump. I think Trump in so many ways would be a disaster for this country if he were elected president."

"We do not need a president whose cornerstone of his campaign is bigotry, who is insulting Mexicans and Latinos and Muslims and women, who does not believe in the reality of climate change," he continued.

Mr Trump has angered minority groups with his hard line on immigration, including calls to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country, deport millions of undocumented immigrants, and build a wall along the US-Mexican border if he is elected.

Mr Trump has also called climate change a hoax by the Chinese to hurt business in the United States.

Sen Sanders, a self-described Democratic socialist, managed to turn his long-shot run into a mass movement with proposals to combat wealth inequality, increase access to health care and education, and defend the environment.

His challenge to Clinton, one of the best known figures in U.S. politics, lasted far longer than expected, running for four months and across 50 states and yielding record numbers of small donations to his campaign.

Sen Sanders has said he will continue to push for a liberal agenda heading into the Democratic National Convention July 25 to July 28, when Mrs Clinton's nomination is expected to become official. He has also made clear he does not want his presence to hurt the party's chances of keeping the White House.

More than three-quarters of Democrats say Sen Sanders should have a "major role" in shaping the party's positions, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll earlier this month. Nearly two-thirds also said that Sen Sanders should endorse Mrs Clinton.