“While Joe Biden and I disagree on the best path to get to universal coverage, his proposal will greatly expand access to health care, and make it more affordable for tens of millions across this country,” Mr. Sanders said, specifically highlighting Mr. Biden’s proposal to lower the eligibility age for Medicare to 60 and expand Medicare to include coverage of dental care, eyeglasses and hearing aides.
But if Mr. Sanders’s remarks were intended to unify his supporters behind Mr. Biden nine weeks before the general election, he also went out of his way to present Mr. Biden as a moderate. All of the Biden policies that Mr. Sanders noted were widely acceptable liberal proposals. Mr. Sanders made plain that he and Mr. Biden were not ideologically aligned, in a clear effort to defend Mr. Biden from Republican attempts to cast him as a “Trojan horse for socialism.”
“Joe Biden and I have differences of opinion, and that is no great secret. It is no great secret that Joe and I disagree on a number of issues,” Mr. Sanders said, before lauding Mr. Biden’s economic plan.
Mr. Trump and Republicans have repeatedly sought to misleadingly paint Mr. Biden, a relative moderate, as captured by Mr. Sanders and the far left, and never more so than during their convention last week. “If Joe Biden doesn’t have the strength to stand up to wild-eyed Marxists like Bernie Sanders and his fellow radicals, and there are many, there are many many, we see them all the time,” Mr. Trump said in his convention speech. “It is incredible, actually. Then how is he ever going to stand up for you? He’s not.”
Mr. Trump also referred to a “Biden-Bernie manifesto,” an apparent reference to the recommendations that the Biden-Sanders joint policy task forces had put forth in July. But while those proposals — on health care, the economy, criminal justice, education, immigration and climate change — indicated deep cooperation among the moderate and progressive wings of the party, they largely hewed to policies Mr. Biden and his allies already supported, frustrating some in the party’s activist wing who believed they did not go far enough.
As he has done countless times since he dropped out of the presidential race in early April, Mr. Sanders closed his remarks with an urgent plea to elect Mr. Biden.
“This is a moment in history that all of us must stand together — Black and white, Latino, Asian-American and Native American,” he said. “We must stand together, we must defeat Donald Trump. We must elect Joe Biden as our next president, and we must create an economy that lifts our people up.”