In a town hall meeting hosted by Fox News a day before the hard-fought primary in Michigan, Clinton called her opponent for the Democratic nomination an "ally" and said she wanted his help in a general election against a Republican.
"I hope to win the nomination. If I am so fortunate, I hope to work with [Sanders], because the issues he's raised, the passion he has demonstrated, the people he has attracted are going to be very important in the general election," Clinton said on Monday night in response to a 13-year-old boy's question. "But equally following the election, to try to get things done. So I do consider him an ally."
Clinton has built a significant lead over Sanders in delegates, marching ahead of him with 1,130 delegates (including committed superdelegates) to the Vermont senator's 499 and has already begun focusing some of her attention on the general election. But the former Secretary of State faces challenges attracting younger voters to her coalition, and Sanders has won among people under the age of 30 by significant margins.
Clinton will need to win back Sanders' younger voters if she hopes to defeat a Republican in a general election. She will face the difficult task reuniting the party after the Democratic convention in July.
"I applaud Sen. Sanders for really getting a very big turnout among young people, I love to see that," Clinton said. "I'm going to continue to attract young people. I'm proud of those who are supporting me and I tell young people all the time: you may not be for me now but I am for you regardless."
Sanders has said he is determined to fight on to try to win the Democratic nomination.
Clinton and Sanders had an amiable relationship before they entered the race last year and have both pointed to their relatively civil debates compared with the Republican primary.
Earlier on Monday during a campaign stop, Clinton said, “I would hope to be able to enlist Bernie in helping me reach out to his supporters if I am so fortunate to be the nominee.”
Sanders' top strategist, Tad Devine, jokingly said in an interview with Politico published Monday, "maybe they're going to put him on the ticket" with Clinton.