WASHINGTON • US Senator Bernie Sanders plans to meet his presidential campaign rival Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, tonight after the party's final primary election is concluded.
The meeting is being held to discuss the party's platform, which Mr Sanders hopes to shape more in line with his support for higher taxes on the wealthy and greater help for working and poor people, he said.
The Vermont senator will press Mrs Clinton to embrace his progressive agenda, and wants to discuss "what kind of administration she will have" if she wins in November, he told an ABC political interview programme on Sunday.
"What I need to see (is) a commitment that there will be progressive taxation," he said, adding that corporations and billionaires should pay higher tax rates.
While Mr Sanders stopped short of saying he plans to concede the race to Mrs Clinton, his comments have sent the strongest signal to date that he is now trying to shape the party and the campaign against Republican presumptive candidate Donald Trump rather than continuing to pursue the nomination by lobbying superdelegates or planning to disrupt the Democratic National Convention next month.
While he is effectively no longer a threat, Mrs Clinton and the Democrats are counting on Mr Sanders to eventually get behind her candidacy.
Mr Sanders said he wanted to see Mrs Clinton embrace his view that healthcare should be a universal right in the US, and public universities should offer education for free.
"Will she go as far as I would like her to go? No, she won't," he said. "But I think millions of people want to understand and see is what kind of commitment she has to addressing the real crises in the country."
The shift follows a meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama last Thursday.
"I am doing everything that I can and will continue to do everything that I can to make sure that Donald Trump does not become president of the United States," Mr Sanders said on an NBC programme."I think this man in a dozen different ways is not fit to become president."
The District of Columbia holds the final Democratic primary today, with Mrs Clinton favoured to win a majority of its 20 pledged delegates. The Associated Press said she had obtained the necessary delegates to secure the nomination on June 7, a day before she won sizeable victories in states including California, which has the highest number of delegates, and New Jersey.
While Mrs Clinton has been hiring campaign workers, Mr Sanders began laying off at least half of his campaign staff members last week. He has let go a number of advance staff members who help with campaign logistics, as well as field workers who have been canvassing for votes.
While he is effectively no longer a threat, Mrs Clinton and the Democrats are counting on Mr Sanders to eventually get behind her candidacy. He has a loyal base of more than 10 million voters and an enormous donor list that Mrs Clinton will want to tap into. Some of his supporters say they will not vote for anyone but Mr Sanders, so Mrs Clinton's success could depend on how vocally he supports her.
BLOOMBERG, REUTERS, NEW YORK TIMES