Clinton campaign chair John Podesta: ‘Emotional’ Sanders supporters won’t hurt her chances

Clinton campaign chair John Podesta takes the stage to speak on the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. (Photo: Paul Sancya/AP)
Clinton campaign chair John Podesta takes the stage to speak on the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. (Photo: Paul Sancya/AP)

PHILADELPHIA — John Podesta, the chair of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, is not concerned about lingering divisions from the Democratic primary damaging her chances in the general election.

“Look, Bernie gave a full-throated endorsement of Hillary Clinton on Monday night. That’s what we worked for. That’s what we wanted. He was helpful at this convention. However, people here are still emotional and wish that it weren’t, so that we got 3.7 million more votes,” Podesta told Yahoo News on Thursday, speaking from the floor of the Democratic National Convention.

Some supporters of Clinton’s former primary rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, have staged protests at the DNC this week. Many of these diehard “Bernie or Bust” voters believe the primary results were illegitimate and claim they will not vote for Clinton even though she has Sanders’ backing. Podesta said he expects the majority of Sanders’ supporters will ultimately get on board with Clinton.

“There are people here who feel that way, but I think that the bulk of people who voted for Bernie Sanders in the primaries are looking at the choice in this election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump,” he said. “And I think we’re working, you know, honoring where they’ve been and working for their votes. And I think most of them are going to come over.”

On Wednesday, Republican National Committee chief strategist Sean Spicer told Yahoo News the GOP is hoping to benefit from Sanders supporters who won’t vote for Clinton.

“I think there’s going to be four camps. Some of those people are going to vote for Hillary. Some of them are going to stay home. Some of them are going to vote for [Green Party candidate] Jill Stein. I think it’s great: Vote for Jill Stein! And then some of them are going to vote for Trump — I think you’re going to see that number as high as 10 or 15 percent,” Spicer said. “This is a huge wing of the Democratic Party — and three of those four camps are awesome for us.”

Polls currently show the race between Clinton and Trump tightening. According to the RealClearPolitics polling average, Trump currently has a razor-thin, 0.9 point lead over Clinton, after climbing 5.2 points since July 15. Podesta said he is not concerned about the numbers and expects Clinton’s standing to improve following the DNC speeches. He said he expected Clinton to “rock it” in her speech to finish the convention on Thursday night.

“I feel like we’re in a very good place in this campaign. We’ve got a tremendous organization that we’re building in the battleground states,” Podesta said.

“We’re going to come out of here, I think, in a better place than where we started with Bernie Sanders’ full-throated endorsement, with Michelle Obama’s unbelievable speech, a speech with Bill Clinton really talking about her whole life wrapped around a love story, and then Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Tim Kaine last night,” he continued. “She’ll rock it tonight. We’re going to come out of here in a very good place.”

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