Clinton told Democrats that she plans to expand her campaign outside of traditional battleground states like Ohio and Virginia in hopes of luring support from voters who have been turned off by Donald Trump, according to Democratic lawmakers who attended the closed-door session on Capitol Hill. She also said she plans to unite factions of the party that previously backed Sen. Bernie Sanders, who waged a fierce primary challenge against her.
“She talked about not writing off any part of the country and even particularly making sure not to write-off white males,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.).
Clinton, who was invited to join the meeting by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was greeted with loud cheers and applause when she entered the weekly closed-door meeting of House Democrats. She delivered a series of opening remarks focused on uniting the party before taking questions from members. The meeting lasted about an hour with members frequently erupting into cheers.
All but eight House Democrats backed Clinton in the primary. Several of those who endorsed Sanders, including House Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) have embraced Clinton in the days since she clinched the nomination.
Clinton addressed concerns that other progressives have not yet decided to embrace her candidacy and told Democrats they need to work together to convince the whole party to unite against Trump.
Democratic Platform Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) told reporters that the full committee will meet Friday in St. Louis, Mo., in hopes of hammering out any remaining differences with the Sanders camp. He said he was optimistic that the party can easily mend fences ahead of the convention.
“We are going to be trying to meld the positions of Sen. Clinton and Bernie Sanders,” Cummings said after the meeting. “It seems as if we are going to be able to reach an agreement — hopefully by Saturday afternoon.”
Many Democrats said a key step toward unity is for Sanders to formally end his campaign and endorse Clinton.
“It is a problem for the party,” said House Democratic leader Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.). “I would love to see Sen. Sanders endorse and go all in.”
There have also been some tensions over the past week over leadership at the Democratic National Committee. Sanders and his supporters have accused DNC Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) of mishandling the primary process to favor Clinton.
Clinton did not directly address the role Wasserman Schultz will play at the convention after Clinton named Brandon Davis as the new DNC chief of staff, according to several members.
Clinton also largely avoided talking about Trump outside of briefly listing areas where Trump has proven himself unqualified to be president, according to Democratic lawmakers.
“She talked about how he has no plan on college affordability, no plan on more jobs and increased salaries, no plan on national security,” said Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY.).
Clinton did not reveal any details of who she might be considering as her running-mate, but that didn’t stop some members from speculating. Clinton is thought by many to be considering Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, for the job. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) couldn’t help but tease Becerra about the rumor.
“Xavier Becerra offered Hillary a glass of water and Joe Crowley said ‘oh you’re really working it!” Israel said. “She said nothing”
Becerra later told reporters that he has “no knowledge” of whether he is being vetted for vice president.