Offering further proof that he has lost control of the political movement that he launched, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said Tuesday morning that he cannot promise that his supporters won’t seek to disrupt the Democratic National Convention for the second night in a row as the party moves toward the nomination of Hillary Clinton for president.
Sanders on Tuesday morning made the rounds of several breakfast events held for state delegates, where he found significant resistance to Clinton from his supporters less than 12 hours after he delivered a full endorsement of her candidacy coupled with a warning that that he believes it is imperative for the party to come together and beat Donald Trump.
He stopped at the California event and delivered some pointed criticism to the delegates from the Golden State, who had been among the loudest protesters the night before. After hearing more boos Tuesday morning at his call to get behind the Clinton campaign, Sanders responded, “It is easy to boo, but it’s harder to look your kids in the face who would be living under Donald Trump.”
But for all that, Sanders indicated that he will still insist on a full roll call vote on Tuesday -- despite the result being a predetermined Clinton victory -- and said that he thinks his supporters should “vote for me.”
He said, “There's an election. We're going to lose, but if you were campaigning for me for six months and I asked who you're going to vote for, you’d say, ‘I’m going to vote for Bernie Sanders.’”
The full roll call will provide further opportunities for Sanders supporters who want to voice their anger at Clinton’s nomination to do so in a very public forum. Asked whether he could persuade his supporters to refrain from publicly booing Clinton during the counting of the votes, he said that he hopes his supporters will “treat the process with respect.” But when pressed on whether there would be more interruptions, all he offered was, “We will see what happens.”
That stands in stark contrast to the last contested Democratic primary, in which Hillary Clinton, after a bitter race against Barack Obama, released her delegates to vote for him and personally moved to shut down a roll call vote so that the nominee could be named by popular acclamation.
Sanders’s supporters are particularly enraged because a leak of nearly 20,000 emails from Democratic national Committee emails over the weekend revealed that staff members on the supposedly neutral party committee were biased in favor of Bernie. This played into Sanders’ longtime complaint that the system had been rigged against him from the start.
The DNC issued a full apology to Sanders that said, “On behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Sen. Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email ... These comments do not reflect the values of the DNC or our steadfast commitment to neutrality during the nominating process. The DNC does not -- and will not -- tolerate disrespectful language exhibited toward our candidates. Individual staffers have also rightfully apologized for their comments, and the DNC is taking appropriate action to ensure it never happens again.”
The fallout from the emails included the resignation of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Shultz, who removed herself from the convention in the interest of preserving party unity. But Wasserman Schultz’s scalp wasn’t enough to satisfy many of Sanders’ supporters as they demonstrated through their jeers and catcalls Monday night.
Even as he called for unity among Democrats, Sanders appeared to go back on a promise he made about his personal commitment to the party last year.
In November, after he had announced that he was running for the Democratic presidential nomination, he was asked to clarify his party status. Sanders has always served as an independent in Congress, caucusing with the Democrats but remaining somewhat apart.
But in the early primary state of New Hampshire, ballot access rules require that candidates be a member of the party whose nomination they are seeking.
At the time, Sanders said, “I am running as a Democrat obviously, I am a Democrat now.” He went on to say that in any future elections, he would run as a member of the Democratic Party.
It wasn’t so clear that was the plan anymore Tuesday morning. Asked about his party affiliation, Sanders said that when he returns to the Senate, he will do so as an independent again -- not as a Democrat.