Washington, June 17: Bernie Sanders has urged his supporters to look beyond the Democratic presidential nomination in a speech that stopped short of fully endorsing Hillary Clinton but made clear that he was no longer actively challenging her candidacy.
In the speech that signalled the effective end of a 14-month campaign odyssey, the Vermont senator insisted his "political revolution continues" despite Clinton's effective victory in the delegate race, The Guardian reported.
But crucially, Sanders implied he would soon be working with her campaign to help defeat Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump.
"The major political task that we face in the next five months is to make certain that Trump is defeated and defeated badly," Sanders said. "And I personally intend to begin my role in that process in a very short period of time."
"Let me conclude by once again thanking everyone who has helped in this campaign in one way or another," he said. "We have begun the long and arduous process of transforming America, a fight that will continue tomorrow, next week, next year and into the future."
Sanders speech may frustrate some Democrats who hoped the Senator would swiftly encourage his supporters to back Clinton before the party's national convention.
"I look forward, in the coming weeks, to continued discussions between the two campaigns to make certain that your voices are heard and that the Democratic party passes the most progressive platform in its history and that Democrats actually fight for that agenda."
Earlier on Thursday, campaign manager Jeff Weaver said he was no longer seeking to change the Democratic superdelegates -- something that had previously allowed Sanders to maintain there was still a theoretical path to victory in the nomination race.
"We would like to get to a place where we could very actively support the nominee," Weaver told Bloomberg Politics, insisting that "we'll have a unified party coming out of" the national convention in July.
Officially, the Clinton campaign has appeared patient with the process, issuing a statement after the talks on Tuesday saying they had "agreed to continue working on their shared agenda, including through the platform development process for the upcoming Democratic National Convention".
Pressure has been mounting on Sanders among other Democrats in Washington, where he was criticised on Thursday for not taking part in a Senate filibuster on gun control.
Sanders began his campaign last April with little expectation of winning more than a handful of delegates or states, let alone seriously challenging the former secretary of state for the nomination, and primarily viewed the process as a way to raise awareness of progressive issues.
But his surprisingly strong performance in early states like Iowa and New Hampshire and a series of record-breaking rallies had seen the movement evolve into a proud insurgency that some felt could go all the way.
Sanders will almost certainly remain a powerful force on the progressive wing of the party but is now likely to call on his supporters to throw their weight behind Clinton in the face of a historic threat from Trump.