DNC 2016: Will Berniacs Ruin Hillary’s Prom?
Hillary Clinton’s former foe from Vermont has pledged to support her, but his followers may not be so forgiving this week in Philly.
On the eve of the Democratic Convention, everything was coming up Bernie.
Sure, Hillary Clinton picked a centrist running mate in Tim Kaine—angering hardcore Sanders fans.
But with the hack of DNC emails released by Wikileaks that showed their staff discussed planting negative stories about Bernie Sanders during the primary, and the subsequent resignation of his nemesis, DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Bern was top of mind heading into what should be Hillary Clinton’s coronation.
This, going into the day of the convention that seems to be the most friendly to Sander’s message. The program on Monday is studded with his endorsers and loyalists—including Reps. Keith Ellison and Raul Grijalva, who both later backed Hillary Clinton but have retained their loyalty to Bernie and the movement he assembled. Not to mention Sanders himself.
And in terms of this convention—aside from the fact he’s not the headliner—Sanders got much of what he wanted.
The platform is filled with asks from the Sanders campaign, like instituting free college for families up to a certain income level as well as raising the minimum wage up to $15.
When Sanders met at the White House in early June, he had several demands, but chief among them was the resignation of Wasserman Schultz. She had, in his campaign’s estimation, put her thumb on the scale throughout the process. (Spoiler alert: She kinda did.)
The emails released late last week showed DNC staffers seemingly trying to plant a story that Sanders, who is Jewish, was an atheist.
In an interview with 60 Minutes on Sunday, Clinton said she had no knowledge of the actions of the DNC and criticized any attempt to attack Sanders—or anyone else—based on their faith.
“I am adamantly opposed to anyone bringing religion into our political process,” she said, after denying she knew anything about the DNC efforts on her behalf.
Sen. Tim Kaine, her newly minted veep pick and former DNC chairman himself, joined her in chiding the DNC, saying that while staff can have opinions they should never act on them in any official capacity during a primary race.
Sanders and his campaign found themselves in the unique position of wanting to sustain a message of unity a day out from Clinton’s convention while also taking a victory lap for the ousting of Schultz.
“Debbie Wasserman Schultz has made the right decision for the future of the Democratic Party,” Sanders said in a statement following her resignation announcement. “While she deserves thanks for her years of service, the party now needs new leadership that will open the doors of the party and welcome in working people and young people. The party leadership must also always remain impartial in the presidential nominating process, something which did not occur in the 2016 race.”
That doesn’t mean his supporters won’t be coming to Philadelphia with a head full of steam and a list of demands.
The Bernie Delegates Network, an organization which is as it sounds, held a press conference in Philadelphia on Sunday hours before protesters took to the streets to stake their claim in the fight against Clinton and the political powers that be.
One of their main issues: the selection of Kaine as Clinton’s running mate.
Norman Solomon, the national coordinator for the group, said they’d be conducting another poll soon to determine if delegates want to protest the pick on the floor of the convention. He expressed regret that certain decisions made by Clinton would keep him from voting for a woman.
“It really hurts me to be standing and feeling like I can’t really support the first woman who is likely to be a candidate for president,” Solomon said. “I would like to be able to do that. But boy are they making it hard.”
This clearly isn’t how the DNC saw their convention in Philadelphia starting out—subtracting major speakers from the roster at the very last minute is not exactly ideal—though the atmosphere was immediately different from the Republican National Committee’s convention in Cleveland. Still, it wasn’t nearly as unified as the Dems hoped to portray.
The Bernie contingent in Philadelphia was loud and proud—a stroll around downtown on Sunday afternoon there saw as many convention attendees sporting Bernie attire as those dressed in Hillary swag.
Meanwhile, at a press conference at a desolate warehouse, around the corner from a shuttered strip club where scenes from The Wrestler were filmed, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus hoped to capitalize—rather insincerely—on the DNC’s very apparent fissures.
“The days will show really what an uphill climb the Democrats are facing this week in unifying their party starting out the week by losing their party chairman over longstanding bitterness between factions, there’s no way to keep things together,” he said, no doubt relishing in the fact his dumpster fire of a convention was in the rearview mirror. “The problems the Democrats have are ideological and the extreme left will not be satisfied by one person’s resignation.”
But a few minutes later, after Trump consigliere Paul Manafort said Trump’s completely dark and scary convention was “optimistic,” a question about their nominee brought Reince and company back to reality.
When a reporter stood and asked about Trump re-upping his attack on Ted Cruz’s father for supposedly playing a role in the Kennedy assassination, Priebus looked to Manafort to answer and Manafort non-verbally motioned for Priebus to take the podium.
Reluctantly, he did, to the chuckles of the assembled press corps.
“He’s got a right to talk about whatever he wants to talk about,” Priebus said. “However, I don’t think he was ever saying that this was any sort of factual piece of information. This is something he referred to, he’s talked about it, he’s gotten off of it, and as far as I’m concerned we can move on from it.”
The reporter retorted, “If it wasn’t factual why did he discuss it in the first place?”
Priebus, who just wanted to make it stop, responded, “I think he mentioned it in passing and everyone glommed onto it and it became a controversy. But as far as the overall picture of Donald Trump that is one rhetorical issue that you can all debate until the cows come home but it doesn’t identify or define the Donald Trump campaign.”