When Bernie Sanders took the stage before his delegates in Philadelphia on Monday, he must have known he had a tall order to deliver. After a long and unexpectedly close primary campaign against Hillary Clinton, he had to convince his most hardcore supporters to join him in rallying behind his former opponent.
Cheers turned to jeers when the Vermont senator finally declared his support for the party ticket.
"We have got to elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine," he said to the room. The crowd recoiled immediately, as many booed and some pleaded for him to keep up the fight.
"We want Bernie," his audience roared, as the candidate waved his hand to resume his speech.
The crowd hinted at its uncompromising spirit even before the moment of truth, booing mentions of superdelegates and outgoing DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who resigned this week after a leak of the organization's internal emails by anonymous hackers. Some of those emails revealed conversations by DNC officials brainstorming ways to undermine Sanders.
Most of the speech leading up to Sanders' call for party unity focused on his campaign's influence on convention rules and the Democratic platform. Among the victories he announced was a future reduction of party superdelegates from 715 to 250 — a 60 percent decrease — and the "most progressive platform" in party history.
"We have set the agenda for the future of America," Sanders bellowed to the crowd.
Sanders is set to speak again on Monday night at the convention after speeches by first lady Michelle Obama and fellow progressive lawmaker Senator Elizabeth Warren.
There's no doubt that the the same delegates who booed him this afternoon will be in the crowd alongside Clinton supporters this evening.
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