PHILADELPHIA — Even Sen. Bernie Sanders felt the wrath of his own dissatisfied supporters at the Democratic National Convention on Monday.
The quadrennial party confab kicked off amid tensions generated by an email leak that showed Democratic National Committee staffers had worked against Sanders’ presidential campaign during the primary. Sanders, who endorsed presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton earlier this month, drew jeers when he made a speech to his delegates, urging them to line up behind Clinton to beat Republican nominee Donald Trump.
“We have got to defeat Donald Trump, and we have got to elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine,” Sanders, I-Vt., said as boos erupted from the crowd.
Sanders described Trump as a “danger” to the country as the jeers continued.
“Brothers and sisters. Brothers and sisters. This is the real world that we live in. Trump is a bully and a demagogue,” Sanders explained. “Trump has made bigotry and hatred the cornerstone of his campaign. Throughout this campaign he has insulted Mexicans and Latinos. He has insulted Muslims. He has insulted women and African-Americans.”
Sanders’ remarks were met with shouts and chants of “We Want Bernie!” Heading into the convention, Sanders and his team indicated that they could push for a floor fight in order to get some of their agenda items incorporated into the party platform. After the contentious primary between Sanders and Clinton, some of his backers hoped they could also contest her nomination at the convention.
The DNC email leak added fuel to this already heated atmosphere. Messages obtained by hackers from the DNC were released over the weekend. The emails showed some DNC staff privately coordinating efforts against the Sanders campaign. During the primary, Sanders and his team repeatedly alleged that the DNC was biased in Clinton’s favor. For many of his supporters, the leak simply confirmed their long-held suspicions. The Clinton campaign has suggested that the leak could be an attempt by the Russian government to tip the election in Trump’s favor.
In his Monday speech to the delegates in Philadelphia, Sanders said his campaign’s surprisingly strong primary performance showed that he and his backers were no longer “fringe players.”
“We have shown the world that our ideas are not fantasies.” Sanders said. “We want nothing less than the transformation of American society.”