On Monday night, Bernie Sanders, at times, struggled to calm his most ardent supporters, as TV cameras highlighted delegates in tears as he urged them to support Clinton. “Not for sale,” some delegates screamed. Sanders received the warmest applause of the night, basking in prolonged cheers as he took the stage, some of his delegates chanting “It’s not over.”
But Democrats ended the night more optimistic than they began it — when failed and frantic attempts by Clinton and Sanders aides to quiet rebellious pro-Sanders delegates plunged the convention into acrimony. Instead, a stirring speech by Michelle Obama, bookended by an uplifting — if high-decibel speech — by Sen. Cory Booker and liberal red-meat address from Sen. Elizabeth Warren seemed to get the convention back on track.
“This election and every election is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives,” Obama said, as a sea of “Michelle” placards waved in the foreground. “And I am here tonight because in this election, there is only one person who I trust with that responsibility, only one person who I believe is truly qualified to be president of the United States, and that is our friend, Hillary Clinton.”
Whether they can keep it there is an open question, as Sanders’ diehard backers — even without the blessing of their candidate — plot to disrupt proceedings Tuesday, when Clinton is set to be formally nominated. The so-called Bernie Delegate Network, a group of Sanders’ most vehement supporters, has flirted with the notion of challenging Clinton’s vice presidential pick, Tim Kaine, though Sanders’ campaign has disavowed those efforts. New protests erupted after the close of convention proceedings, a reminder that lingering bitterness could become a headache on the convention’s second day.
It was precisely the outcome Clinton and Sanders aides had hoped to avoid. Convention organizers seemed intent on allowing Sanders’ allies a catharsis, a chance to celebrate their candidate and even vent about their loss to Clinton during the convention’s early hours, while speakers slowly began nudging them to line up behind Clinton as the day wore on.