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A Conversation With Bernie Sanders Supporters

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Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., accompanied by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, speaks during a rally in Portsmouth, N.H., Tuesday, July 12, 2016, where Sanders endorsed Clinton for president.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., accompanied by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, speaks during a rally in Portsmouth, N.H., Tuesday, July 12, 2016, where Sanders endorsed Clinton for president.

Andrew Harnik

Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. But will his supporters vote for her? NPR’s Lynn Neary talks to Nicole Castillo and T. Lee Shostack, both Sanders supporters.

LYNN NEARY, HOST: Bernie Sanders finally endorsed Hillary Clinton this past week. And now the question is whether Clinton can win over Sanders' supporters. For some, it's an easy shift in allegiance. For others, not so much. We recently spoke with two Sanders supporters in Boston who illustrate this divide. T. Lee Shostack did fundraising and volunteer work for the Sanders campaign and says she just can't make the switch to Hillary Clinton. Nicole Castillo also campaigned for Sanders during the primary but now has put her support behind Clinton.

NICOLE CASTILLO: Just like many of the other Bernie Sanders supporters, I do have some reservations, but I think in the end, we have to make a choice. And I just don't think there's any way in which I can morally justify allowing Donald Trump to be elected over Hillary Clinton because of the email scandals, for example.

I think the criticisms that we had in terms of her being, you know, late to some of the decisions around racial issues or college affordability, she has moved forward on those things. And I think that at this point, we have to move forward with someone that is actually caring about these issues versus someone who is creating a culture in the country that is potentially far more dangerous.

NEARY: All right, let's turn to T. I know that you think differently about this. You're not planning to vote for Hillary Clinton. Why not?

T LEE SHOSTACK: Well, I hear what Nicole's saying and I respectfully disagree. I don't think Hillary is serious about these issues. I think she has, under a lot of pressure, moved to publicly say she'll do something about them. I don't think that means that they would be a priority for her.

NEARY: So what do you plan to do? Are you going to go with a third-party candidate?

SHOSTACK: I am. I'm thinking very strongly about Jill Stein.

NEARY: So if you go the third-party candidate, the potential is there that that candidate could take enough votes away from Hillary Clinton that it would result in Donald Trump getting elected.

SHOSTACK: You know, I feel like I've heard that a lot. My experience of that is that's like a democratic party line. I completely disagree with it. I think it's important to vote for your values and vote for the person that you think would be the best candidate. I understand completely why Bernie is endorsing Hillary.

I think his strategy does move a progressive agenda forward. It's not enough for me. And I don't necessarily agree that just because you don't vote for Hillary it automatically means that Donald Trump becomes president. I relate to that as fearmongering and fear-based politics.

NEARY: Nicole, I'm sure you know there are a lot of young people, and probably some older people as well, who feel the way T. does. You are now planning to actually campaign for Hillary Clinton. What are you going to say to somebody like T. to try and win them over?

CASTILLO: I think, to me, the most compelling piece is to try to look at the fact that our votes don't exist in a vacuum. I can understand the idea that we need to vote our values. But I think we have to look at what the aftereffects will be of that. And if we can, for this time, try to be more strategic with the goal of being able to move a progressive agenda forward, I think it's clear that Hillary Clinton is the person that we have to vote for.

NEARY: T., how do you respond to that?

SHOSTACK: I hear what Nicole is saying. I never think there's a person I have to vote for. I believe that Hillary's agenda is not progressive. I think it's middle of the road at best. And I may end up moving to vote for Hillary in the general election if I see that the numbers are concerning as a strategic move. I would never give money to Hillary's campaign.

I think somebody who has made millions of dollars working actively to support Wall Street is not a candidate that will push an agenda that I think is progressive and not the direction that I think this country is clearly passionately excited about, the Bernie Sanders agenda and the Bernie Sanders campaign.

NEARY: Nicole Castillo and T. Lee Shostack. Both of them supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries. Thanks for being with us.

CASTILLO: Thank you.

SHOSTACK: Thank you.

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