Bernie Sanders to delegates: Please don’t protest on convention floor

A delegate who's a Bernie Sanders supporter wears a custom coat at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. (Photo: Jim Young/Reuters)
A delegate who’s a Bernie Sanders supporter wears a custom coat at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. (Photo: Jim Young/Reuters)

PHILADELPHIA — Sen. Bernie Sanders sent a text message to the leaders of his delegation pleading with them not to protest on the Democratic convention floor Monday night.

“I ask you as a personal courtesy to me to not engage in any kind of protest on the floor,” he wrote in the text message to his delegate whips. “Its of utmost importance you explain this to your delegations.”

He signed the text, “Bernie.”

Many of his delegates did not heed his warning, as some Sanders supporters interrupted the convention’s opening prayer with chants of “Bernie!” DNC Chair Rep. Marcia Fudge reprimanded the delegates for interrupting her opening remarks when she said she was “excited” to help elect Hillary Clinton and Sen. Tim Kaine. “Excuse me!” she pleaded, as Sanders delegates interrupted her with boos and chants of “Bernie.”

“We are all Democrats, and we need to act like it,” Fudge said.

Later, Sanders sent an email to his delegates saying that their movement’s credibility would be “damaged” by “booing, turning of backs, walking out or other similar displays.” Sanders said such demonstrations are “what the corporate media wants.”

Sanders was loudly booed Monday afternoon by hundreds of his fans when he told his delegates to back Hillary Clinton and her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine, in a meeting at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Sanders is scheduled to speak at the end of the night, after Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and is expected to make a plea for party unity.

The Democratic National Convention has had a rocky start. Notably, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced Sunday that she would resign after the convention ended and also announced that she would not gavel in the convention as previously planned. The announcement came after a damaging leak of emails in which DNC officials were revealed to have been trying to undermine Sanders’ primary campaign. The DNC released a statement offering a “sincere apology” to Sanders and his supporters as the convention began.

A text message sent to Sanders delegates
A text message sent to Sanders delegates

Some of the 1,900 delegates backing Sanders are planning various protests on the floor — from turning their backs on Clinton’s speech to booing every time her name is mentioned — though no clear plan of action has emerged.

Iyad Alfaqa, a Sanders delegate from California, says most of the 370 Sanders delegates from California are planning to turn their backs when Clinton addresses the delegates Thursday night to accept the nomination.

“We can’t be the party of Main Street and Wall Street at the same time. For us, Hillary, she is for Wall Street,” Alfaqa said.

Several Sanders delegates said they were not persuaded by their candidate’s appeal to back Clinton, and they participated in booing him on Monday afternoon.

“You will not peer pressure me into anything,” said Anne Hamilton, a Sanders delegate from North Carolina. “Bernie wants us to be respectful to her and the situation, but our response is, she has no respect for us.”

Amanda McIllmurray, a Sanders delegate from Pennsylvania, said she was disappointed in Clinton’s choice of Kaine for running mate and was considering protesting his speech but had not yet decided whether to do so.

“It’s hard to predict,” said Kelly Thornton, an Arizona backer of Sanders. “You have 1,900 very pissed-off people.”


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