Toni Preckwinkle, the Cook County Board President and a powerful politician within the county’s Democratic Party, said Bernie Sanders supporters need to back presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton. In a wide-ranging interview with WBEZ this week, Preckwinkle spoke at length about the presidential campaign to date.
Here’s what the delegate for Hillary Clinton had to say:
On Bernie Sanders supporters who are hoping to influence the state of the Democratic Party’s platform:
I never thought the platforms meant very much. It’s the candidate that people vote for, not the platform. So that’s my overriding opinion. We’ve got to figure out as Democrats how to include the Bernie Sanders supporters, but I think the Bernie Sanders people have to understand that they lost the fight for the nomination so thinking they’re going to go to Philadelphia and sort of have their way with everything is not realistic
On supporting Hillary Clinton
I was elected to the City Council in 1991 in April. Ald. Joe Moore invited me to an event to meet the young governor of Arkansas who was running for president. His wife, Hillary, had been a classmate of Joe’s first wife.
I had my daughter, Jenny, and she was a little baby at the time in a little backpack. Bill, of course, was late. He’s always late. And so Hillary’s job was to sort of keep us engaged and attentive as we waited on Bill and, you know, she gave a wonderful speech. She gave a better speech than he did when he finally arrived. And I thought, ‘This is a very smart and talented person.’ And I’ve never wavered from that view since 1991 when I first met her in that small group.
I tell my daughter about it. Of course, she doesn’t remember. She was a baby. So in 200 years in this country, we’ve never had a woman as our chief executive and, God willing, we will in November. And I’ll be happy.
On Donald Trump’s campaign for president:
I’m a history teacher. I think a lot of this is sort of the inevitable consequence of the way in which the Republican Party has sought support since I was a teenager. Lyndon Johnson supported the Civil Rights bill and basically he said, you know, ‘The Democratic Party is gonna lose the South as a result of this.’ And he did it anyway, bless him.
And as a result of the passage of the Civil Rights bill, you know, there’s not one Southern state anymore that is a Democratic state. They’re all Republican states because the Republican Party made itself a refuge for the former Dixiecrats, the segregationists of the South. The people who were hostile to racial progress and to equality of black folks.
If you look at race, if you look at immigration, if you look at how the LGBT community gets treated, the Republican Party has made itself a refuge for backward-looking people in all of those areas. And so it’s no surprise that somebody like Donald Trump emerges out of that cauldron. Deeply disappointing, but not surprising. So, I mean, I find Donald Trump a very problematic figure and one that, unfortunately, I believe, reflects the worst of my country.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.