PHILADELPHIA (CN) – With Hillary Clinton set to officially secure the Democratic nomination for president later today, those loyal to her are working to bring supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders on board in the general election.
Hotel bars, shared hotel rooms and tables crowded with plates full of scrambled eggs and bacon are the debate halls where Clinton backers are attempting to convince the die-hard Sanders fans that falling behind the former secretary of state is necessary to stop Republican nominee Donald Trump from taking a seat in the Oval Office come November.
“If not today, tomorrow we have to come under one umbrella, which is the Democratic party,” Virginia delegate Anjan Chimaladinne told Courthouse News.
Chimaladinne is sharing a hotel room with a Sanders supporter while in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention, giving him an opportunity to show one member of the significant Sanders delegation that the two candidates’ ideas are not so different. He points out to his roommate that Sanders won a number of victories on the platform the party agreed to Monday.
“My idea is not to pull him in in one day, but to have a conversation,” Chimaladinne told Courthouse News.
One California delegate is using the power of hugs to bring reluctant Sanders supporters behind Clinton.
Jacquelynn Hawthorne said she hugged 10 Sanders supporters on Sunday, 20 on Monday and has a goal of 30 for Tuesday. Around 10 in the morning Tuesday she had only hugged one, though she blamed that on oversleeping after a late night of talking with Sanders delegates at a bar. The group decided at that informal gathering to meet the next morning at breakfast.
Through hugs, she hopes to express to Sanders delegates that she knows the pain of watching a candidate she believed in lose an election. She also aims to build relationships that will help some of the more vocal holdouts come to Clinton’s side for the general election.
“That’s what it’s going to take, it’s going to take relationship building,” Hawthorne said.
California has been a hot bed of anti-Clinton sentiment so far in the convention. Sanders supporters have disrupted both of the breakfasts the delegation has put on this week, including on Tuesday after a surprise visit from the Vermont senator.
“It’s easy to boo, but it is harder to look your kids in the face who will be living under a Donald Trump presidency,” Sanders told the delegates after some booed him for endorsing Clinton.
All through Monday’s program, loud boos emanated from the California delegation’s spot on the floor whenever a speaker treated Clinton’s nomination as an inevitability.
But Clinton delegates in California insist the fervor is coming from a small group that does not represent even a majority of Sanders backers at the convention.
Delegates from other states say the same and insist that the speeches Sanders has given this week have helped soothe the wounds of a party recovering from a bitter primary season that brought in many young people from outside the party.
“I respect their passion for a cause that they believe in,” Maryland alternate delegate Robert Leonard told Courthouse News. “I think that the best way to support Senator Sanders right now is to support his decision to endorse the Democratic nominee for president, Hillary Clinton.”
Wayne Messam, a Florida delegate and mayor of Miramar, Fla., said he doesn’t expect to ever get the full support of the Bernie wing of the party, but that he is nevertheless fighting to convince them to unite behind Clinton.
Part of his plan is to rely on the Sanders supporters who have already conceded and now support Clinton to change the hearts of some of Bernie’s most loyal supporters who are still hesitant to come over.
“The main thing is to realize the party must come together,” Messam told Courthouse News. “Because there’s no way in hell that these progressive ideals are going to come forward during a Trump presidency.”
Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., listens during a rally near City Hall in Philadelphia, Tuesday, July 26, 2016, during the second day of the Democratic National Convention. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
- Brooklyn Men Arrested on Bank Heist Charges
- R&B’s New Edition Calls ‘Illegal’ Contract Void