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Michelle Obama, Sanders endorse Clinton on day 1 of Democratic convention

Bernie Sanders assured delegates at the Democratic convention that Hillary Clinton was his candidate now.

us presidential election Updated: Jul 27, 2016 01:07 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
US presidential elections,Democratic National Convention,Bernie Sanders
Senator Bernie Sanders addresses the New York delegation at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) on July 26, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The convention officially began on Monday and is expected to attract thousands of protesters, members of the media and Democratic delegates.(AFP)

Michelle Obama was classy, inspirational and moving. Elizabeth Warren was spunky as always and others were effective. But it was Bernie Sanders who delivered, or tried to.

He gave Hillary Clinton his endorsement, his blessings and, hopefully, for the Clinton campaign, his supporters, ending talk of him using the Democratic convention to resurrect his campaign.

“It is no secret that Hillary Clinton and I disagree on a number of issues,” Sanders said, addressing his supporters at the convention, some of whom had tears in their eyes.

But, he assured them, Clinton was his candidate now, who agreed - he said repeatedly - with his ideas and would be a trusted surrogate of the revolution they had started.

“What we have done together is unprecedented, but our fight is not done,” said the senator from Vermont, who has made the word “revolution” trendy in a typically American way.

Sanders endorsed Clinton a while ago, but his supporters hadn’t and they dragged that battle to the floor of the convention, hoping to kick some life into it.

They chanted “Bernie, Bernie” as they had at his rallies, wore T-shirts blithely warning, “Feel the Bern”, and booed speakers pitching Clinton, yelling, “She stole the nomination.”

Refusing to accept Sanders’ exit. some of them said they still believe he can get the nomination in the call of rolls — a count of delegates on the floor of the convention — on Tuesday.

Robin Savage, a Montana woman who ducked into a church offering protestors rest and respite downtown, told Hindustan Times she believed something was afoot.

“There is going to be a contested convention,” she said, tucking back a clutch of sweat-drenched hair under her hat — it was a hot and humid afternoon, “and Bernie will get the nomination.”

But hasn’t he already conceded, and asked his supporters to support and vote for Clinton? “Oh, we have been told,” Savage said, dropping her voice, “to ignore him and what he is saying.”

Seriously? “Yes,” she said, “Bernie (to his supporters, Sanders is always Bernie and Clinton is always Hillary) is saying things he has to but that’s not how things will turn out.”

Their obstinacy, however, had begun to irritate Democratic leaders and even Sanders surrogates, who were urging them to take the blow, let off some steam and move on.

Sarah Silverman, a comedian who backed Sanders, had some tough words for fellow Bernie backers — “to Bernie or bust people (I say)…you are being ridiculous.”

Perhaps they were. And they stared back, sullenly.

Paul Simon, who backed Clinton (Art Garfunkel supported Sanders) even sang to them — the iconic “Bridge Over Troubled Water”.

The catcalls and boos quietened down during Michelle Obama’s electrifying speech — she has a temper, they remembered — that drove many delegates to tears.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, who followed, started with several nods to Sanders, as a leading surrogate, but failed to enthuse the audience, which stayed surprisingly quiet. They were just being impatient, it seemed. They had travelled from across the country to see if their leader could make a last stand, and try and get what he deserved.

“The Democratic party was not interested in democracy,” said Kathy Roemer, a delegate form California. “There is justifiable outrage and absolute commitment of BS supporters.”

But did they expect Sanders to keep fighting for his nomination? Some agreed but a lot of others disagreed — 85% of them have switched to Clinton already, according to a recent PEW poll.

First Published: Jul 26, 2016 22:21 IST