PHILADELPHIA — Hoping to end a contentious and prolonged primary fight, Bernie Sanders addressed the Democratic National Convention Monday night, urging his still devoted followers to shift their allegiance to Hillary Clinton.
“I understand that many people here in this convention hall and around the country are disappointed about the final results of the nominating process,” Sanders said as many teary eyed supporters waved “Bernie” signs.
“I think it’s fair to say that no one is more disappointed than I am. But to all of our supporters — here and around the country — I hope you take enormous pride in the historical accomplishments we have achieved.”
“Together, my friends, we have begun a political revolution to transform America, and that revolution — our revolution — continues,” he said.
But if the revolution continues, the Vermont senator said the family fight is over.
“Based on her ideas and her leadership, Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States,” Sanders said.
“Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president, and I am proud to stand with her here tonight.”
It was Clinton’s and Sanders’ big day to try to bring unity to the Democratic party and to quell distrust from many who came en masse to Philadelphia.
And it was far from easy.
As aides to Sanders and Hillary Clinton worked hard to stop protests inside the arena, some Sanders supporters had other plans. Clinton supporters passed out “Love Trumps Hate” signs, while some brought in their own “Bernie” and “No TPP” signs.
Before Sanders took to the podium, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a powerful progressive force, spoke, calling Trump’s wall “a stupid wall which will never get built” while criticizing what she deemed his lack of real plans for the country.
“We’re here today because our choice is Hillary Clinton. I’m with Hillary,” Warren said.
Warren called Clinton one of the “smartest, toughest, most tenacious people on this planet.”
“There’s a lot of wealth in America but it isn’t trickling down to hard working families like yours,” Warren said. “The system is rigged.”
Warren said Trump is a “man who must never become president of the United States.”
The day was marked with progressive speakers trying to drum up unity — along with a powerful, inclusive message from first lady Michelle Obama — and full of Donald Trump zingers. Obama’s speech brought unity and a roar of applause to the convention hall.
“Hillary has never quit on anything in her life,” Obama said, adding Clinton didn’t get “angry” or disillusioned when she lost her primary bid.
“I’m with her,” Obama said.
There were some unexpected fireworks when comedian Sarah Silverman told the crowd she’s a Sanders supporter planning to vote for Hillary. She was met with “Bernie” chants and some boos. Which led her to respond.
“To the Bernie or bust people, you’re being ridiculous,” Silverman said.
It took musician Paul Simon to sing “A Bridge Over Troubled Water” to calm them down.
The first day tone of division dissipated a bit as Democrats united on speeches highlighting social issues, such as women’s rights, immigrant rights, mental health support and union and workers rights.
The speeches capped an extraordinary day in which Sanders tried to regain control of the progressive movement.
With many of his supporters threatening to disrupt the convention proceedings — and perhaps the election — by protesting the Clinton-Kaine ticket, Sanders called them together at a separate location before the convention to celebrate their successes in shaping Democratic platform policies more to their liking.
But some booed when he urged them to elect Clinton and Kaine.
And a last minute text to Sanders supporters didn’t do much to quell protesters on the convention floor.
“I ask you as a personal courtesy to me to not engage in any kind of protest on the floor,” Sanders wrote in the text message to his delegate whips. “It’s of utmost importance you explain this to your delegations.”
Earlier, Sanders was booed at a meeting among his own supporters, many of whom had traveled to protest Clinton’s nomination. But Sanders insisted that a change in the superdelegate rule was just the beginning of many victories for his supporters and his movement.
Monday marked a rough start to the Democratic National Convention as Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge — who stepped in to replace Debbie Wasserman Schultz amid the leaked email scandal — was almost immediately drowned out by Sanders supporters.
“Excuse me,” Fudge interjected. “I intend to be respectful of you, and I want you to be respectful of me. We’re all Democrats and we need to act like it!”
Former Texas Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, co-chair of the rules committee, told Sanders supporters there is deep respect for their movement.
“We hear you. We respect you. And this unity commission will work for you to build a thriving, growing Democratic party today, tomorrow and for generations to come,” Van de Putte said.
Other speakers Monday worked to convince the crowd of that: “Whether you support Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton we are all in this together,” said Maine State Rep. Diane Russell. “We will all have a voice in the Clinton administration.”
“Hillary Clinton is the only choice for president. She is a choice that we can be proud of,” said California Rep. Linda Sanchez.
If anything there were more talks about unifying the party, than in bashing Trump — although convention organizers played videos throughout the night highlighting Trump clips on various issues.
It was union leaders who riled support for Clinton and pounded Trump, calling her an “unstoppable champion,” and Trump, a “thin-skinned bully.”
“You’re not a tough guy. You’re a bully,” Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO president said to cheers.
“Donald Trump is not the solution to America’s problems, he is the problem,” Trumka said.