Bernie Sanders: “Hillary Clinton Must Become the Next President”

Sanders supporters rallied all over the city Monday. Sanders encouraged them to vote for Clinton.

Former Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Monday, July 25, 2016.

Former Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Monday, July 25, 2016.

Bernie Sanders used what was likely the biggest platform he’ll have for the foreseeable future to give a ringing endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president during the Democratic National Convention Monday night.

Sanders, whose supporters were demonstrating near the convention hall and around the city on Monday and over the weekend, also used the speech to rehearse the issues that defined his insurgent campaign, which went much further than maybe people believed it could when he announced his intention to run.

Expanding access to healthcare. Regulating Wall Street banks. Reducing the cost of college. Appointing Supreme Court justices who will overturn the Citizens United decision that opened the floodgates of money in politics. On all those issues, Sanders said, Clinton is the candidate who can make real progress. He lambasted her Republican opponent, Donald Trump, as self-interested and bent on dividing the country.

“We need leadership which brings our people together and makes us stronger, not leadership which insults Latinos and Mexicans, insults Muslims and women, African-Americans and veterans, and seeks to divide us up,” Sanders said. “By these measures, any objective observer will conclude that based on her ideas and her leadership, Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States.”

Sanders stood at the podium thanking the cheering crowd for several minutes before beginning his speech. Throughout the speech, the Jumbotron television monitors showed various Sanders supporters in tears. The speech was well-received, with only occasional shouts of protest from some corners of the Wells Fargo Center.

“If you don’t believe this election is important, if you think you can sit it out, take a moment to think about the Supreme Court justices that Donald Trump would nominate and what that would mean to civil liberties, equal rights and the future of our country,” Sanders said, while describing, point by point, why Clinton should win the general election.

Sanders didn’t downplay his own achievement. He told the 1,800-plus delegates he’d won that he looks forward to their votes late this week, and said he was personally disappointed that he didn’t triumph in the race. But he encouraged his supporters to keep fighting for the issues he had championed in the campaign. “Election days come and go, but the struggle of the people to create a government that represents all of us and not just the 1 percent, a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice—that struggle continues,” he said.

Though the party is bending over backwards to emphasize unity, it hadn’t seemed certain that the first day of the convention would end in harmony.

Early on Monday, some in the audience at the convention began booing at every mention of Hillary Clinton. The boos were drowned out by cheers from Clinton supporters, but the message got through: Bernie Sanders had awakened a dormant left wing of the Democratic Party, and some of his supporters aren’t happy that Clinton will be taking the nomination.

Even before the convention began, Sanders was reportedly booed by his own supporters as he addressed delegates and encouraged Democrats to unite to defeat.

“This is a real world we live in,” Sanders said, according to the New York Times.

Sanders also apparently sent a text message to his supporters on Monday afternoon, asking them not to protest on the floor of the convention as a “personal courtesy.”

Over the weekend, Wikileaks released a trove of emails sent between Democratic National Committee members, revealing what many Sanders supporters suspected all along: Key party figures were united behind Clinton long before the primary election process was complete. The revelation led DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to announce that she would resign from the position, and stay off the stage during the convention. The convention was called to order by Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the mayor of Baltimore. That role had first been reserved for Schultz.

On Monday, the Sanders crowd was everywhere in Philadelphia. They rallied at City Hall and marched to the Wells Fargo Center. Sanders supporters have also set up camp in FDR Park, just a few blocks north of the convention. They made noise at the convention throughout the day, even as speaker after speaker encouraged Democrats to unite behind Clinton.

A crowd of Sanders supporters had gathered just outside the security fence in the afternoon heat on Monday, telling delegates and reporters walking into the convention, “We will never vote for her.”

Angie Ashford, 55, stood in the middle of the torrential downpour later Monday near FDR Park, covered in a dark poncho. She hoisted a sign into the air that read: “Restart the Heart of Democracy. Delegates: Nominate Bernie.” The rain and lightning didn’t scare her off. “This is so important to the future of our nation,” said Ashford, a Vermont native who lives in Central Jersey.

Ashford said she’s been a Sanders supporter for 30 years. “If Hillary had won fairly, I would vote for her. I voted for her in 2008,” she said. “I refuse to reward someone who did not win fairly with my vote. I’m not going to reward her with the office of the presidency if she didn’t earn it. Bernie has more than earned it.”

“Can I just say to the Bernie-or-Bust people, you’re being ridiculous,” comedian Sarah Silverman, a Sanders supporter, said from the convention stage Monday night.

But the tension never bubbled over. Prior to Sanders even approaching the stage, the show had been more or less stolen by First Lady Michelle Obama.

Additional reporting by David Gambacorta.

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