WASHINGTON | By John Whitesides
Hillary Clinton formally concluded the U.S. Democratic presidential race on Tuesday with a win in the District of Columbia primary, then turned her focus to uniting the party during a 90-minute private meeting with defeated rival Bernie Sanders.
Clinton, who secured enough delegates to clinch the nomination last week, met with Sanders in a downtown Washington hotel as the sometimes bitter primary combatants searched for common ground ahead of the Nov. 8 election against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
Sanders has resisted pressure to bow out and endorse Clinton in a show of party unity, choosing to continue his campaign as leverage to win concessions from Clinton on his policy agenda and reforms to the Democratic Party nominating process.
Both camps described the meeting as "positive" and said the two noted their shared commitment to stopping Trump and pursuing issues such as raising the minimum wage, eliminating undisclosed money in politics, making college affordable and making healthcare coverage more accessible.
Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs said the meeting was "a positive discussion about how best to bring more people into the political process and about the dangerous threat that Donald Trump poses to our nation."
Also attending were Sanders' wife Jane, Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and the two campaign managers, Jeff Weaver for Sanders and Robby Mook for Clinton.
Sanders had promised to stay in the Democratic race until the final vote was cast in the Washington, D.C., primary, although in the past week he has stopped talking about capturing the party's nomination and instead focused on ways to advance his policy goals.
He scheduled a national video address to supporters on Thursday night, telling them in an email message that "the political revolution continues."
At a news conference before the Washington meeting, Sanders said he would also demand changes to make the Democratic nominating process more equitable, including replacing the Democratic National Committee leadership, letting independents take part in the voting and eliminating superdelegates, who are unelected and are free to support any candidate.
"The time is long overdue for a fundamental transformation of the Democratic Party," Sanders said.
Clinton wins D.C. primary, has 'positive' meeting with Sanders