More than one year after launching his bid for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, Senator Bernie Sanders returned home to Vermont for one day Wednesday, before a full schedule in Washington D.C. Thursday that includes meetings with President Obama and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, as well as a rally planned for 4 p.m. at RFK Stadium in Washington.
Sanders fended off calls for him to concede after Hillary Clinton was named the winner of contests June 7th in New Jersey, South Dakota, New Mexico and California. Sanders was declared the winner in Montana and North Dakota.
Clinton's campaign Tuesday night celebrated victory after a number of super-delegates told the Associated Press and other media organizations they would not be swayed from voting for Clinton who has won the majority of unpledged delegates, but needed super-delegates to nudge her over the 2,383 delegates needed to secure the Democratic nomination.
Many of Clinton's supporters Wednesday said Sanders should support Clinton and help unify the party.
"He must understand how successful she is at getting things done....as he moves forward," said Alec Bash, a San Francisco volunteer with the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Sanders and his supporters said the race should not be declared finished until the Democratic Convention vote in July.
"The struggle continues," Sanders told a crowd on Tuesday night in Santa Monica.
"A lot of people are energized. There's a lot of people that are going to continue to come together. There's going to be a meeting of grassroots activists next week in Chicago," said Charles Idelson, a spokesman for the California Nurses Association in Oakland who attended the rally.
U.C. Berkeley professor of political science Sean Gailmard says having Sanders still in the race keeps a spotlight on the Democrats and their issues.
"This definitely helps Democrats, I mean it keeps the debate lively, it keeps the debate vibrant," said Gailmard, "This actually does keep it in the news, it gives reason to pay attention to it."
Sanders, however, reportedly plans to cut his campaign staff in half this week and there was speculation that President Obama might endorse Hillary Clinton after the meeting with Sanders.
On Fox News Wednesday, Clinton praised Sanders, but quickly pivoted to the general election.
"We have a lot of the same goals, like making sure everybody has healthcare, but we have different approaches," Clinton told Fox News Channel's Bret Baier.
Idelson said the Democratic Party should be reaching out to Sanders' supporters, especially young voters who might be alienated if the Democratic leaders take their votes for granted.
"A lot of us believe that just saying 'I'm not Trump' is not sufficient to ensure someone votes for you," Idelson said.
Democratic Party leaders appeared to acknowledge those concerns Wednesday.
"Everything is on the table, and nothing is off-limits," said Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the Democratic National Committee Chairwoman who has been accused of showing favoritism toward Clinton at the expense of Sanders.
Professor Gailmard says while Clinton is reaching out to Sanders and his supporters, it is unlikely that she would select him as her running mate on the ticket in the general election, as she tries to win as many as eleven critical swing states.
"What really matters is how to appeal to voters in those swing states, the large swing states, and it's not clear Sanders can convince those voters who might otherwise vote for Donald Trump, into voting for Hillary Clinton instead," Gailmard said.