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Clinton to evoke Lincoln’s ‘House Divided’ speech in Springfield

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at a rally with Sen. Bernie Sanders. | Justin Saglio/AFP/Getty Images

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WASHINGTON — At the Old State Capitol in Springfield, where Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous “House Divided” speech in 1858, Hillary Clinton on Wednesday will talk about bridging divisions in the U.S.

The day after winning the endorsement of Bernie Sanders — an important step to unifying the Democratic party — Clinton will visit the historic site where Barack Obama kicked off his presidential campaign in 2007, evoking the president who told the nation “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

“Clinton will talk about healing our country after the tragic shootings in Dallas, Minnesota and Louisiana,” a Clinton campaign official said.

“. . . Clinton will cast the divisions facing our country as broader than these incidents alone and talk about what we need to heal the divisions in our politics and our culture. She will argue that our nation is “stronger together,” the campaign official said. “Stronger Together” is one of the key themes in the campaign Clinton is waging against Republican Donald Trump.

OPINION

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Clinton’s trip to Springfield comes as the Sanders endorsement raises the question whether he will be able to turn his “revolution” into a turnout operation for his former rival.

“I am endorsing Hillary Clinton,” Sanders said at a joint event in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a state where he trounced Clinton in February’s first-in-the nation primary.

“So I need your help. Please join this campaign. Make it your own. You can take out your phone right now and text JOIN, J-O-I-N, to 47246. Or go to hillaryclinton.com. We accept $27 donations, too, you know,” said Clinton, making a joke about the average donation Sanders bragged about in his speeches — and her own quest for mega dollars.

Clinton could use Sanders’ army of small donors who bankrolled his campaign so abundantly he did not have to spend time fundraising.

On Wednesday, after the Springfield speech, she heads to the Wilmette home of Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts and her wife, Brooke, for a lunch where the cheap seat is $33,400; co-chairs are raising or giving $150,000.

Once Clinton locked in the delegates to become the presumptive Democratic nominee, Sanders continued his campaign and eventually told an interviewer a few weeks ago he would vote for Clinton and work to defeat Republican Donald Trump.

In politics, an endorsement — explicitly said — is more significant than merely stating one’s voting preference.

Sanders and Clinton looked awkward in the Tuesday picture — nothing like the first spark of chemistry one could glimpse in 2008 when the vanquished Clinton sucked it up and appeared with primary victor Barack Obama in Unity, New Hampshire, when it was over for her. She had no idea then that Obama would tap her to be his secretary of State.

The difference between 2008 and 2016 is stark at this stage. In 2008, Clinton was content — or so it seemed — to stump for Obama to be president and then return to the Senate and carve out an enhanced role in the chamber. Sanders is also headed back to the Senate, but oriented to the outsider, not the insider game, empowered as the creator and founder of a progressive movement.

What’s not clear is what Sanders and his followers wants to do with their people power, which helped Sanders win 22 states.

The Vermont senator’s reluctance to endorse quickly is understandable. He wasn’t just being grumpy in taking his time. You don’t just throw away leverage.

Sanders wanted the Democratic convention platform writers to be stocked with his supporters and have something to show his backers that all the work and faith and hope they put in him translated into something.

Trump, who tried to lure Sanders into making a third-party bid with his hyped compliments — everyone saw through that trap — tweeted that with the Clinton endorsement, “Bernie Is Now Official Part Of A Rigged System,” branding him a sellout.

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