You can’t gavel a convention into session or into recess without pounding a little wooden mallet against a block. Both Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who opened the convention, and Marcia Fudge, who just wrapped things up tonight, have learned that lesson after having to return to the podium for a perfunctory gavel-tap.
Bernie Gives In to Hillary
The Vermont senator closed the first night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia with a show of unity, but his supporters weren’t necessarily with him.
After a contentious start to the Democratic convention, Bernie Sanders took the stage at the end of the night on Monday, to an adoring crowd. By the time he left, he did not seem to have succeeded in convincing his most ardent supporters to stand with Hillary Clinton.
Sanders framed the election as a clear choice between the threat of Donald Trump in the White House, and the far better outcome of a President Hillary Clinton. “We need leadership, which brings our people together and makes us stronger—not leadership which insults Latinos, Muslims, women, African Americans, and veterans and divides us up,” Sanders warned. “By these measures, any objective observer will conclude that—based on her ideas and her leadership—Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States. The choice is not even close.” The line met with loud cheers and applause.
But that show of unity was not enough to cover up the divisions among delegates in the room. Many booed when Sanders railed against Trump or the problems with American society. But there was also disdain for the presumptive nominee. The crowd occasionally broke out in jeers when Sanders said the words “Hillary Clinton.” At the end of his speech, loud boos could be heard when Sanders called for “a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House, and a Hillary Clinton presidency."
The Democratic convention is off to a rocky start. The event is meant to show that rifts in the party are mending after a hard-fought primary battle. But during Monday’s programming, the convention came across more like a televised spectacle designed to prove the opposite. Democratic officials seem desperate to move past scandal in the wake of a damaging email leak that has left Sanders supporters even more frustrated and bitter. And while Sanders himself appears to have made his peace with Clinton’s nomination, his most ardent supporters aren’t ready to accept defeat.
The convention opened to jeers at very the mention of Clinton’s name. Ohio congresswoman Marcia Fudge was loudly yelled down when she declared that “Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine want to build an economy that works for everyone, not just the people at the top.” Later in the evening, the actress and comedian Sarah Silverman had a message from the stage for the hold-outs. “Can I just say to the Bernie-or-Bust people: You’re being ridiculous.”
Earlier that afternoon, Sanders confronted an angry crowd when he told a room full of his delegates, “We have got to elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine.” Boos and calls of “We want Bernie!” rang out. Later in the day, Sanders sent out a message to supporters asking them to “not engage in any kind of protest or demonstration on the convention floor.”
There could certainly be more protest to come at the convention, but even if there isn’t, the deep divisions within the party will still be there. “I guess it makes us look bad if we boo and make a fuss, but we have such a build up of emotion at this point,” said Shauna Valdez, who identified herself as a Bernie delegate from the Minnesota delegation. “They want the media to show unity, and we don’t have that yet. I hope we will, but if they want unity Clinton is going to have to convince us.”
Supporters of the Vermont senator have a long list of grievances. Many believe the recent DNC email leak—which seemed to suggest that Democratic officials were colluding against Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary—is evidence of a rigged system. Some are frustrated that Clinton picked Kaine as her vice-presidential pick, hoping she would choose someone like Senator Elizabeth Warren instead. Many see Clinton as an establishment politician bent on maintaining the status quo.
“We’ve been working against corruption. We’ve been working to get big money out of politics. She represents all of those things to some Bernie voters. That’s not the message we’ve had all the way up to this point, and it’s hard for some people to accept that,” said Barry Welsh, who identified himself as a Bernie delegate from Indiana, reflecting on Clinton. “The harder you try to shove something down someone’s throat, the easier it is for them to vomit it back up,” he said, adding: “A lot of Bernie people feel like that’s what’s happening.”
During his speech, Sanders acknowledged his differences with Clinton, although he attempted to suggest that any divide is merely a reflection of healthy debate. “It is no secret that Hillary Clinton and I disagree on a number of issues,” he said. “That’s what this campaign has been about. That’s what democracy is about."
He promised the political revolution will continue and assured his supporters he feels their pain. “I understand that many people here in this convention hall and around the country are disappointed about the final results of the nominating process,” he said. “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.”
It had to be painful for Sanders to stand inside the convention arena and deliver the speech, knowing he would not be the nominee. But the intensity of devotion among his supporters was evident. When he walked on stage, the crowd gave him deafening applause. Sanders and his supporters may not have gotten what they wanted, but they came a very long way.
That won't make his defeat sting any less. As Sanders left the stage, the crowd chanted again: “We want Bernie! We want Bernie!”—Clare Foran
He’s with her.
As he wrapped up his remarks, Sanders betrayed a fondness for Clinton that he didn’t much exhibit on the campaign trail. “I have known Hillary Clinton for 25 years,” Sanders said, as a first lady who advocated for reforming health care and then as a Senate colleague. “Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president, and I am proud to stand with her tonight.”
Sarah Silverman, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders—a huge lineup. But Michelle Obama won the night.
Bernie’s big line tonight—“Based on her ideas and her leadership, Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States”—was immediately met with a cacophony of indistinguishable boos, claps, and chants from delegates.
It seems like someone on comms for the Democratic Party was able to take all of tonight’s speakers, including Bernie and his supporters, through Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s model of grieving: Now that they’ve done the denial; now that they’ve angrily contested the results; now that they’ve bargained for the Democratic platform—they can admit depression. “I think it's fair to say that no one is more disappointed than I am,” Sanders said.
Now onto acceptance: Bernie is officially with her.
Bernie Sanders may not be the party’s nominee, but he’s not letting go of the “political revolution.”
“Election days come and go. But the struggle of the people to create a government which represents all of us and not just the 1 percent—a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial, and environmental justice—that struggle continues,” he said. “And I look forward to being part of that struggle with you.”
This is quite a moment for Sanders who until only recently endorsed Clinton. Shortly before 11 p.m. on Monday night, he’s taking his victory lap and his supporters are as enthusiastic as they were during the primary season.
Bernie Sanders acknowledged his upset supporters: “I understand that many people here in this convention hall and around the country are disappointed about the final results of the nominating process. I think it’s fair to say that no one is more disappointed than I am,” the senator from Vermont said. “But to all of our supporters here and around the country, I hope you take enormous pride in the historical accomplishments we have achieved.”
Joe Kennedy III recounted a story that probably hit pretty close to home for thousands of law students during his introduction for Elizabeth Warren.
It was my first day of law school, my very first class. The goal? Escape unscathed. Not three seconds in, and I get the first question.
“Mr. Kennedy, what is the definition of assumpsit?”
“Mr. Kennedy, you realize assumpsit is the very first word in your reading.”
“Yeah, and I actually circled it because I didn’t know what it meant.”
“Mr. Kennedy, do you own a dictionary? That’s what people do when they don’t know what a word means. They look it up in a dictionary.”
I never showed up unprepared for Professor Elizabeth Warren ever again.
It appears that Warren was a ruthless cold-caller back in her Harvard days. Cold-calling is an infamous law-school teaching technique of back-and-forth questioning. Student reviews corroborate his story. “Fantastic professor that knows how to use her hyper-Socratic method to its full potential,” one student once wrote, referring, to a tradition that strikes fear in the hearts of first years.
But inquiring minds want to know: What is an assumpsit? Generally speaking, it is a legal action to enforce a contract. Or so a friend tells me. Unlike Kennedy, I managed to duck that question during my first year in law school.
Time’s Zeke Miller has a snapshot of the crowd as Bernie Sanders takes the stage. He was onstage for several minutes before he was even able to say a word over the chants.
Bernie takes the stage https://t.co/sPFoRk8UaD pic.twitter.com/qRvZTluJ6g— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) July 26, 2016
Elizabeth Warren framed voters’ decision between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump this way: On one end is a privileged businessman “who cares only for himself, every minute of every day.” And on the other? “One of the smartest, toughest, most tenacious people on this planet ... who fights for all of us and is strong enough to win those fights.”
The Massachusetts senator, who endorsed Clinton in June amid speculation she was being considered to join the ticket, was entirely unreserved in her support for Clinton, praising the soon-to-be-nominee even as some in the audience heckled her. Warren is a useful surrogate for Clinton to have. She’s a progressive star, who Monday night criticized the country’s “rigged” political and financial system. (Representative Joe Kennedy, a scion of the famed political family and former law student of Warren’s, called her “our government's gut check” as he introduced her Monday night.)
As a strong liberal voice, she has seen as someone who can unite the Clinton and Sanders wings of the Democratic Party. In her remarks, Warren thanked Sanders for his work, saying he “reminds us what Democrats fight for every day,” a remark that seemed to subtlety suggest delegates should all be on the same side.
Warren has also shown a remarkable ability—and enthusiasm—to attack the Republican nominee, whom she characterized as a savvy, immoral operator. “His whole life has been about taking advantage of that rigged system,” Warren said, specifically calling out Trump’s comments that he once “sort of” hoped for a real-estate collapse. “What kind of man does that?” Warren asked. “I’ll tell you what kind of man: a man who must never be president of the United States.”
There’s a distinct canon of convention speeches that change the speaker’s reputation and are remembered, at least in this business, years and decades later. Talking just about the Democrats, the established list would be: Bill Clinton in 2012, making the case for Barack Obama even better than Obama made it for himself; Barack Obama in 2004, making his debut and speaking for John Kerry and against George W. Bush and Dick Cheney; Ann Richards in 1988, with a mockingly eloquent takedown of George H.W. Bush; Mario Cuomo, in 1984, with his “shining city on a hill”; Jesse Jackson at that same 1984 convention, after his own presidential run; Edward Kennedy in 1980, with his “dream will never die” address that was also a rebuke of Jimmy Carter; Barbara Jordan in 1976, speaking for Carter; and then reaching way back, Hubert Humphrey in 1948, with a pro-civil-rights speech in a Dixiecrat era; and William Jennings Bryan, with his still memorable Cross of Gold Speech in 1896.
Michelle Obama’s speech this evening joins that list: “When they go low, we go high.” This was a very classy and effective speech at all levels—in composition, line-by-line crafting, and delivery. I am glad to have heard it in real time.
Elizabeth Warren is coming down pretty hard on Trump’s mansplaining. As she put it during her speech, “The great Trump hot-air machine will reveal all the answers.” She cracked jokes about his “stupid wall,” the length of his speeches, and his history of cheating students and investors. “What kind of man does all this?” she asked, emphasis on “man.” “A man who should never be president of the United States.”
It is very significant that Michelle Obama, of all people, said these words near the conclusion of her speech: “Don’t let anyone tell you that our country isn’t great ... Our country is the greatest country on Earth.” Back in 2008, Republicans harshly criticized her for saying at a campaign event, “For the first time in my adult life, I feel proud of my country.” So the fact that now, as first lady, Mrs. Obama is the Democrat leaning hard on patriotism and going after Donald Trump for suggesting that the United States is not already great is notable.
Michelle Obama looked toward the next generation in an emotional speech on the convention stage Monday night.
“It’s hard to believe that it has been eight years since I first came to this convention to talk with you about why I thought my husband should be president,” Obama began. She recalled those first days in the White House and her daughters’ first day at their new school. But none of it came easy.
In a veiled jab to Donald Trump, Obama highlighted the challenges of bringing up a family at the White House, “how we urge [our daughters] to ignore those who question their father’s citizenship or faith.”
Without naming Trump, Obama later delivered a point-by-point attack of the Republican nominee. “I want someone with the proven strength to persevere. Someone who knows this job and takes it seriously. Someone who understands that the issues a president faces are not black and white and cannot be boiled down to 140 characters,” she said, adding: “Because when you have the nuclear codes at your fingertips and the military in your command, you can’t make snap decisions.”
But for much of the speech, Obama kept the focus on today’s children, including her own.
The first lady’s remarks aimed to validate Clinton’s campaign. “I trust Hillary to lead this country because I’ve seen her lifelong devotion to our nation’s children,” she said. Obama went through a laundry list of the former secretary of state’s accomplishments, evidence of her qualifications to serve as president. And in what appeared to be a subtle message to Bernie Sanders’s supporters, she said, “When she didn’t win the nomination eight years ago, she didn’t get angry or disillusioned.”
Obama also lauded Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine, praising leaders like him “who show our kids what decency and devotion look like.”
The message of diversity and perseverance was not lost, either. “I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves,” she said. “I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women, playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.”
Obama, a hugely popular figure in the Democratic Party, has largely stayed behind the scenes this primary season. The Washington Post reports: “Her opening-night slot reflects more than just her steady popularity: Organizers also appreciate her unerring knack for making headlines—and capturing the attention of people who don’t otherwise follow the news cycle closely.”
And so it was: The speech was raw, it was full of emotion. Obama became weepy when she spoke about Clinton “putting cracks in that hardest of glass ceilings.” So did many delegates. And at the end of it, the arena simply went wild.
A bunch of convention cops & security guys came into the hall to listen to Michelle's speech. They stood, riveted, at the top of the stairs.— Molly Ball (@mollyesque) July 26, 2016
One speaker who might get lost in the sea of all stars tonight is Cheryl Lankford. She was ripped off by Trump University and she gave a striking speech with the verve of a pro. “He was born rich,” Lankford said of Trump. “And there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I thought I could learn something from him.” She then paused before adding: “But then he decided to make himself richer.” Her husband died, she was in dire financial straits, she was vulnerable, she was scammed. And she said frankly, “I was embarrassed.” Then channeling Elizabeth Warren at her attack-dog best, Lankford asked, “What kind of a man does that?”
She closed with a warning: “Now he’s making promises to America: Don’t make that same mistake.”
A captivating speaker does more than give a good speech. They make their audience forget about all the bad speeches they’ve heard. With them, you savor the present.
Cory Booker gave a good speech. He recognized the ground on which he stood in Philadelphia, drawing a line from the goals of the Declaration of Independence to the split dividing the country. He hit Trump, but with an elegance that seemed to give his punches the weight of history. His tone was upbeat, if not always positive. And he let no energy drain way. Bill Clinton liked it; several times, CSPAN zoomed in on the former president, leaning forward, rapt.
“We cannot devolve into a nation where our highest aspiration are that we just tolerate each other,” Booker said. “We are not called to be a nation of tolerance, we are called to be a nation of love.”
The roar of the audience grew. “When we are indivisible, we are invincible,” he said.
Booker’s a gifted orator. The jury is out, however, on the question of whether he is a gifted leader. In Newark, he earned the reputation of an always-on mayor, once delivering diapers to a mother in the midst of a snowstorm. But as the mother noted, the only reason she couldn’t buy them herself was because the streets hadn’t been plowed. And as a senator, he has yet to make serious waves. Perhaps it’s for these reasons that he was never seriously vetted for vice president.
But Monday played to his strengths, and he did a service to the delegates. His speech, for a moment, seemed to quiet the grumblings of a restive day. Quoting poet Maya Angelou, he spoke to the endurance of not just the Democratic Party, but the entire country:
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
“We will rise,” Booker yelled. “We will rise.”
As the Democrats held the first night of their convention, the Trump campaign offered counter-programming, in the form of a loud, rambling speech from the Republican nominee. It began with Trump’s criticism of “Crooked Hillary” (“what a mess they have going” at the Philadelphia convention) and ended with Trump bragging about his recent fundraising totals.
In between, Trump had a lot to say: He mocked CNN and Clinton ally Elizabeth Warren, lambasted Clinton’s treatment of outgoing DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and praised America’s law enforcement and his own vote totals in the primary. And he launched ad-hominem attacks at Clinton, calling her “an absolute fool” for her support for the NATO alliance.
These are all familiar topics for Trump. But one, albeit brief, section of his speech was more fresh: his criticism of Clinton’s vice-presidential pick, Tim Kaine, who joined the ticket late last week. “Kaine is a guy that loves every trade deal that he’s ever seen,” Trump said, referencing in broad strokes the Virginia senator’s support for free trade. Trump is in a good position to make this critique in front of his supporters: Both he and Senator Bernie Sanders attracted voters this year thanks to their opposition to trade deals.
Trump also addressed what he considered a conspiracy theory among Democrats—that Russia hacked the DNC’s emails to help his campaign. Though he dismissed that idea as fiction, Trump still struck a positive note about America’s former Cold War foe: “When you think about it, wouldn’t it be nice if we actually did get along with Russia?”
Four years ago, Barack Obama spoke in Roanoke, Virginia, attempted to drive home the point that shared infrastructure, shared values, and shared community provide the framework that enables individual initiative and success:
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business—you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
Instead, “you didn’t build that” instantly became a rallying cry for the right. “To say that Steve Jobs didn't build Apple, that Henry Ford didn't build Ford Motors, that Papa John didn't build Papa John Pizza ... it's not just foolishness,” Mitt Romney riposted. “It's insulting to every entrepreneur, every innovator in America.” Democrats quickly edged away from that framing.
But on Monday night, in Philadelphia, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker took to the floor and offered a familiar message:
In this city, our founders put forth a Declaration of Independence, but let me tell you, they also made an historic Declaration of Inter-Dependence. They knew that if this country was to survive and thrive, we had to make an unusual and extraordinary commitment to each other. Look, I respect and value the ideals of individualism and self-reliance, but rugged individualism didn't defeat the British. It didn't get us to the moon. It didn't build our nation's highways. Rugged individualism didn't map the human genome. We did that together. And so this is the high call of patriotism.
Benjamin Franklin is often—apocryphally—quoted as having said at the signing in Philadelphia, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” It’s a powerful message.
It’s also one that, as Obama learned to his chagrin, resonates very differently with partisan Democrats than with other voters. Booker’s speech offered a powerful call to unity, and will certainly provoke even more discussion of his ambitions. But its framing may not do much to attract undecided voters into the Democratic tent.
The DNC’s Night One is way more packed than the RNC’s Night One:
Compare: nearly full arena tonight for Dems vs. many empty seats on Monday (for Scott Baio) at RNC pic.twitter.com/6JBKaCzBuj— Josh Barro (@jbarro) July 26, 2016
Two SNL alum, Sarah Silverman and Al Franken, took the stage—the former a Sanders supporter, the latter a Clinton supporter. But no matter, they sought to show unity tonight—though not without poking some fun.
“I’m Sarah Silverman and this past year, I’ve been feeling the Bern,” Silverman said to cheers. “Relax, I put some cream on it.”
“I support Bernie Sanders and the movement behind him. And Bernie has already succeeded in so many ways,” Silverman exclaimed. She added: “Bernie showed us that all of America’s citizens deserve quality health care and education, not just the wealthy elites.” Still, that aside, she said she was casting her ballot for Clinton. She joked that just a couple years ago, Clinton was “just a secretary” and “now she’s gonna be president!”
“Hillary is our Democratic nominee and I will proudly vote for her,” Silverman said to a chorus of cheers and boos. “I will vote for Hillary with gusto.”
Silverman wasn’t done yet, though. Going off script, she said: “Can I just say to the Bernie or Bust people: You’re being ridiculous.” The line was met by chants of “Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!” as Franken and Silverman tried to continue their speech. The pair called for unity and then threw it to Paul Simon—who sang “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.”
“To the Bernie or Bust people: You’re being ridiculous.” —Sarah Silverman
It seems considerably less raucous at the convention now compared with earlier in the evening. But will there be protests later tonight? I just spoke with Barry Welsh, who told me he is a Bernie delegate from the Indiana delegation. He said he doesn’t think it’s too likely to happen, but he has heard rumblings that delegates might try to hold a sit-in on the convention floor. “I heard chatter that there’s going to be some kind of protest tonight, blah, blah, blah,” he said. “I really don’t think you’re going to see that. I think after Bernie talks, the Bernie people will go nuts, then they’ll go home.” He added, however, that he had heard people talking about “a sit-in on the stage or something like that.”
Senator Al Franken of Minnesota is a full of jokes this evening—and rightfully so, he spent 15 years on Saturday Night Live in several roles. For the first several minutes of his remarks, he hammered Trump University.
“I got my doctorate in megalomania studies from Trump University,” he began. “Sure, I had to empty out my 401(k) and take a reverse mortgage on my house to pay tuition, but Mr. Trump—or rather some people who said they once met him—convinced me that it was worth it, and frankly, as a proud alum of Trump U., I think we may be underestimating Donald Trump.”
But that’s not all: He also took a jab at Trump’s bankruptcies (“Their bankruptcy program in particular is known throughout the real-estate investment community for its creativity.”) and Trump steaks (“And if you believe that, I’ve got some delicious Trump steaks to sell you.”)
Franken highlighted the importance of heading to the polls, recalling his first run for the Senate—when he won by just 312 votes. So what has his punchline? “You have jobs, you have kids: Ignore them … An 8-year-old kid knows how to use a microwave oven. Let me tell you something else: An 8-year-old kid can teach a 4-year-old kid to use a microwave oven. It’s just scientific fact,” he said. “Don’t worry about your kids. They’ll be fine. You have work to do. Get on those phones, knock on those doors, and tell them Al Franken sent you.”
Senator Bob Casey’s an earnest fella, if a bit dry, and he made an earnest Pennsylvania pitch for Hillary Clinton. “Donald Trump says he stands for workers and that he’ll put America first, but that’s not how he conducted himself in business,” Casey said. “Why would Donald Trump make his products in every corner of the globe but not in Altoona, Erie, or here in Philadelphia?” (A nice nod to the base back home; Casey covered western, central, and eastern Pennsylvania with that nugget.)
Trump has cited Pennsylvania as one of the Rust Belt states sorely in need of industrial jobs. It’s true that deindustrialization hit the Keystone State hard, leaving blocks of former factories in ruin in Philadelphia and steel mills rusting in Pittsburgh. But Pennsylvania has rebounded, and Casey argues that Trump’s policies would set it back.
He’s partially right. Urban Pennsylvania is doing pretty well these days. But the state’s rural counties have fared somewhat worse. And Bob Casey has never been very popular in the country.
Pam Livengood from Keene, New Hampshire, just delivered remarks to the DNC. Livengood and her husband, John, are raising their 2-year-old grandson, Francis, while their daughter grapples with addiction. Livengood and Hillary Clinton spoke last year on the campaign trail about her experiences.
“It started with the pain medication she was given after Francis was born, and it just got worse. It is hard to explain just how devastating it is to watch your child struggle with substance abuse,” Livengood said. “I know my daughter loved Francis, but love wasn’t enough to take care of him.”
The grandmother’s remarks came on the heels of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s stark speech about his own battle with alcoholism. Senator Jeanne Shaheen from New Hampshire then drove Livengood’s point home.
Opioids, prescription or otherwise, are a serious problem in New Hampshire—indeed across the country. They are causing vast sums of human suffering in Philadelphia, too. In many ways, the city is ground zero for a growing, national heroin epidemic. Between 2000 and 2013, heroin-involved deaths quadrupled. From coast to coast, millions of Americans are addicted to some variety of opiate. But this crisis is particularly pronounced along the Delaware River.
The Los Angeles Times reports that some heroin in Philly is 92 percent pure, double what it was a decade ago. Hundreds come to the city each year seeking it. New, deadlier concoctions of the drug are killing scores. All while suppliers keep driving the I-95 corridor feed in what seems to be an insatiable appetite for the drug.
“Today my daughter is in treatment, but she has a long road ahead of her,” Livengood said. “This epidemic has devastated communities all over this country. It doesn’t discriminate against age, race, gender, or income.”
“It affects all of us,” she concluded.
Reflecting on the entire RNC and what I’ve seen tonight of the DNC speeches, I see two political parties that both decided to use their respective conventions to “solidify the base” rather than “pivot to the general.”
As the DNC switches to LGBT rights, featuring a video of Hillary Clinton urging support for the community and a lesbian Nevada state senator, a reminder: Clinton did not support same-sex marriage until 2013, when public opinion also began to shift in that direction. From an interview with reporters in 2000:
Marriage has got historic, religious and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time, and I think a marriage is as a marriage has always been, between a man and a woman. ... But I also believe that people in committed gay marriages, as they believe them to be, should be given rights under the law that recognize and respect their relationship.
It was the arguably the biggest viral moment of the Democratic campaign—a little girl in Nevada, fighting through her tears, explaining how she worries her parents could be deported at any moment. Hillary Clinton called her over, gave her a hug, and asked her to let the grownups handle her worries for her.
The delegates watched as the exchange replayed on the convention’s Jumbotron. And then the beaming 11-year-old, Karla Ortiz, ascended to the stage with her mother, Francisca, and made another viral moment. “On most days, I’m scared,” she said. “I’m scared that at any moment, my mom and my dad will be forced to leave. I wonder, what if I come home and find it empty?”
The crowd was silent. Clinton’s hug gave her comfort, she told the delegates: “She wants me to have the worries of an 11-year-old, not the weight of the world on my shoulders.”
And the clincher, which brought some in the audience to tears and everyone else to applause: “I want to grow up to be a lawyer, so I can help other families like us,” Karla said. “Vote for Hillary Clinton,” she concluded, raising her mother’s hand.
I guarantee you, no matter what Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren says tonight, that moment will be one of the defining images of today, and perhaps the entire convention.
Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley understands why Bernie Sanders supporters are disappointed. He was Sanders’s only Senate colleague to endorse him in the Democratic primary—before revealing in June that he’d be voting for Hillary Clinton. On Monday, Merkley tried to convince the Sanders holdouts that the time had come to let the campaign go. He reassured them that the movement they’d been a part of would continue past November and that the platform the Democratic Party had put forth this year reflected their progressive goals. “We must be united in this battle,” Merkley said. “Let’s work together as Bernie and Hillary have and make sure that next January” on the Capitol steps “it’s Hillary Clinton that we are celebrating to become the next president of the United States.”
The labor movement serves a crucial role for Clinton right now. It’s apparently Bernie Sanders’s night; several speeches have been interrupted already with “Bernie, Bernie” chants and an outcry against the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Clinton’s union surrogates can offer credible testimony that the nominee is on their side, opposing the TPP and supporting the minimum-wage goals of the modern labor movement.
Plus, there’s something to that whole union-muscle thing.
“Donald Trump ... he thinks he’s a tough guy,” said Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO. “Donald, I worked in the mines with tough guys. I know tough guys—they’re friends of mine.” His voice raised to a yell—well, an even louder yell: "Donald, you’re no tough guy—you’re a phony!”
The squad of leaders—Trumka, Lee Saunders from AFSCME, Lily Eskelsen Garcia from the National Education Association, Mary Kay Henry from SEIU, Sean McGarvey from North America’s Building Trade Unions, and Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers—took the stage together, speaking a few minutes each. With the exception of Trumka—the AFL-CIO didn’t make an official endorsement in the primary—all of them represent unions that gave Clinton their blessing early in the primary season. (You didn’t see any representatives from the Communication Workers of America or the Amalgamated Transit Union, however. They endorsed Sanders.) Clinton fought hard for their support, and some of these leaders took their licks from angry members who felt their leaders had opted too quickly for an establishment politician.
But tonight they exulted the former secretary of state—and they were downright scornful of Trump. “Last week, we saw a festival of fear,” Weingarten said. “Why? To hide that Trump’s plans, like many of his businesses, are completely bankrupt.”
That got cheers. But throughout the speeches, some delegates continued to chant against the TPP. Some of the leaders onstage, especially Saunders, helped keep opposition to the trade pact out of the party platform, largely as a favor to President Obama. The crowd had not forgiven them.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, an Irish American, wouldn’t have been welcome in this city 175 years ago—and he sees immigrants facing the same discrimination his ancestors endured today, in 2016.
In his remarks to the convention, Kenney talked about the violence Philadelphia saw in 1844, when anti-Catholic (read: chiefly anti-Irish) rallies and riots destroyed Catholic churches and homes. It’s a strange period in history to consider for those of us who grew up Catholic in the area, where people are prone to respond with their parish’s name when you ask them where they are from.
But Irish immigrants were new to the city then, and anti-Catholic nativists claimed these newcomers threatened American life as they knew it. In the Kensington neighborhood, where Irish immigrants dominated the population, “native-born” Philadelphians saw the Irish as a threat to their jobs, and met their devotion to the Pope with suspicion . After one nativist rally in May 1844, Kensington erupted, and neighbors tried to escape. Per a source in a Villanova University library exhibit on the violence:
The sights presented ... were truly sickening. Men with their wives, and often six or seven children, trudging fearfully through the streets, with small bundles, seeking a refuge they knew not where. Mothers with infants in their arms, and little ones following after them, carrying away from their homes whatever they could pick up at that instant, passing along with fearful tread, not knowing where to turn.
Kenney tied the anti-immigrant fervor of 1844 with current rhetoric. Nativists “claimed that immigrants, people like my family, were more likely to commit crimes. Does that sound familiar?” he asked. He told the audience he was recalling this period because “it is happening again,” with Republican convention attendees last week vowing to take their country back. But, Kenney said, “They got it all wrong. It was never their country in the first place.”
John Podesta, Clinton's campaign chairman and one of her chief advisers, praised Bernie Sanders in his brief remarks, recalling their relationship when Podesta was a young congressional staffer and Sanders was the mayor of Burlington, Vermont. “He stood up to the special interests and fought to give working people a fairer say,” Podesta said.
But in the next breath, he moved on—to Donald Trump, to his own history as the grandson of immigrants, and, of course, to Hillary Clinton. Echoing his compliments to Sanders, he said Clinton would also take on special interests “to make our economy work for everyone.”
“She will be a champion for our children and families,” he said. “With your hard work, we can build a better future for everyone—farm families and military families, the forgotten middle class, and those who have been left out and left behind, and immigrants, people like my family and yours, who struggled to get here, who built this country, and who love America.”
New York State Senator Adriano Espaillat, who's running to replace retiring Charlie Rangel in the House, offered a challenge to Donald Trump. He identified himself as someone who'd become the first Dominican-American congressman if elected in November, and “perhaps just as important,” the first member “who was once undocumented as an immigrant.”
“You take that, Donald Trump,” he said, delivering his speech first in English, then partially in Spanish. “For us immigrants, our commitment to this country isn't always found in our papers, in our documents. Even in our worst days, that tall elegant lady sits in New York Harbor. And she says to Donald Trump every day, 'Give me your tired, give me your poor, your masses waiting to breathe free.'”
Can Congress find a way to break legislative gridlock and tackle climate change—and if so, how?
That question was up for debate at an event hosted by The Atlantic in Philadelphia featuring Democratic congressmen Henry Cuellar of Texas and Jerry McNerney of California as well as Daniel Esty, a professor of environmental law and policy at Yale Law School.
“If you have a conversation that’s utterly polarized … I don’t think you can get anywhere,” Esty said during the discussion sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute’s Vote for Energy Project. “You cannot do a big thing in our society with a one-party answer to the problem. You’ve got to find a middle ground to bring people together.”
There certainly is no shortage of obstacles. To start, many Republican lawmakers deny that climate change is a problem at all, or at least one that the government should address. The members of Congress on stage described other challenges as well. “I think both sides have taken the position: Either you’re with us 100 percent of the time … [or] you’re on the other side,” Cuellar said. “The energy folks do that and certainly the environmentalists do that.”
“We’re going to need fossil fuels for a long time,” McNerney said. “But what we need to do is reduce fossil fuels and carbon emissions in a rational way that actually helps the economy to grow. I think that’s quite possible.”
Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings is one of the most forceful speakers in Congress. But even he can't get through his speech without interruptions from the delegates. This time, it was delegates railing against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal negotiated by the Obama administration that Bernie Sanders does not support.
The delegates' timing wasn't coincidental: Sanders allies tried unsuccessfully to get anti-TPP language into the Democratic Party platform, and Cummings was the platform committee's chair. His remarks Monday were meant to introduce the committee's report, though he offered personal reflections, too, on his support for his party's principles. Referencing his father—a hard-working former sharecropper who emphasized helping others—Cummings said his dad would tell the audience “that this election is bigger than Hillary Clinton, bigger than Bernie Sanders, it's bigger than all of us.” He went on: “It is about generations yet unborn. And he would say these simple words: ‘You are blessed, so you can bless others.’”
At least one Bernie Sanders ally is trying to do damage control. Symone Sanders, who is of no relation to the senator, left the campaign earlier this summer, but previously worked as its national press secretary. Now, she has taken to Twitter to address protest over the DNC emails in what looks to be a bid to argue that everyone needs to take a deep breath and calm down.
Look, people are well within their rights to have passions and opinions. That is how we create change in this country. We need the passion!!— Symone D. Sanders (@SymoneDSanders) July 25, 2016
But let me be clear - NO ONE STOLE THIS ELECTION! Team Sanders we did AMAZING WORK. But we lost. It's a hard reality for some.— Symone D. Sanders (@SymoneDSanders) July 25, 2016
It was a hard reality for me. Because I fought hard. Now, we won some great battles, but the reality is the system didn't cheat us.— Symone D. Sanders (@SymoneDSanders) July 25, 2016
Now the contents of the leaked emails show individuals were definitely biased, but 7 folks on an email didn't "steal" the election.— Symone D. Sanders (@SymoneDSanders) July 25, 2016
There are other qualms. Other valid arguments, but a stolen election is not one. I worked there. No one stole the election from us.— Symone D. Sanders (@SymoneDSanders) July 25, 20
Last week my colleague David Graham pointed out how Republican opposition to Hillary Clinton has crept towards a disconcerting open desire to see her imprisoned. While that seemed like a new development in particularly toxic rhetoric between conservatives and liberals this election cycle, it seems even some liberals are adopting the stance to “lock her up.”
I spent a few hours talking to pro-Sanders supporters today and I saw several of the same “Hillary For Prison” signs and shirts that were so common in Cleveland. Even more indicative of some rhetorical creeping, the slogan #DemExit was common among some protest groups, in an attempt to mirror the sentiments behind Brexit. The Brexit vote in Great Britain was critiqued by many as a capitulation to xenophobia. It was certainly strange to see slogans criminalizing an opponent and embracing a signpost of xenophobia in a group of liberal protesters.
Paul Booth, a member of the platform committee, is hyping the party’s agenda. “It has support for the public services and the public workers who are the backbone of our country, and keep our neighborhoods safe and thriving,” he said. You might note the “AFSCME” logo on the sleeve of his shirt—he’s the executive assistant to the president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents more than a million public workers.
As Elijah Cummings spoke to the convention, protesters shouted, “Stop TPP!” in reference to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Their objections suggest a major division in the party that is yet to play out at the DNC.
Labor unions stand as a central pillar of the Democratic Party, and have for some time. But this year, they seem split on Hillary Clinton. She wrapped up the endorsement of several heavy hitters during the primaries—the American Federation of Teachers, the Service Employees International Union, and the United Food and Commercial Workers, among others. But some of the biggest unions said they’d sit the primary out, waiting until the contest had concluded to endorse a candidate for president. Others went to Sanders.
One of those was the 700,000-strong Communication Workers of America, the largest union to back the Vermont senator at the time. Its former president, Larry Cohen, campaigned for Sanders full time; Sanders attended a much-publicized rally with striking Verizon workers.
With the campaign over, Cohen is now helping build Our Revolution, a non-profit advocacy group that will seek to elect candidates that share Sanders’s ideals to all levels of government. On Monday, he met with 2,000 Sanders delegates and secured promises from many to host livestream events in their homes in a few weeks.
Clinton must now gather those same delegates into the fold of her own campaign. And to win that support, Cohen says she’ll have to make her beliefs plain on the campaign trail, not just in her speech Thursday night.
“I think it’s more about things like campaigning to stop the TPP—openly campaigning,” he said. “I was out in those states that are very TPP-oriented. They need to believe that it’s not just words.”
At 4 p.m. on Monday afternoon, Democratic convention organizers released the schedule for this evening’s speakers. Bernie Sanders was speaking in the 9 p.m. hour, before First Lady Michelle Obama, Senator Cory Booker, and the convention’s keynote speaker, Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Well, now Sanders is speaking after all of them, in the coveted final spot that typically draws the largest television audience. Less than 90 minutes after issuing that initial schedule, the DNC sent out “corrected” program that listed the Vermont senator as speaking last. It might only be the first of four nights, but the Warren and Sanders speeches could be the most important of the convention until Clinton speaks on Thursday, as they try to soothe the angry Sanders supporters and unite the party behind its nominee.
As I mentioned a few minutes ago, Bernie Sanders supporters in the arena aren’t being at all shy about expressing their displeasure with Hillary Clinton.
But Sanders, for his part, is trying to tamp down any furor, asking for delegates’ cooperation during the proceedings. Sanders himself will address convention-goers later tonight, and he’s expected to call for Democratic party unity in the race against Donald Trump. As Yahoo reports:
“I ask you as a personal courtesy to me to not engage in any kind of protest on the floor,” he wrote in the text message to his delegate whips. “Its of utmost importance you explain this to your delegations.” ...
Some of the 1,900 delegates backing Sanders are planning various protests on the floor—from turning their backs on Clinton’s speech to trying to amend the platform on trade and Israel—though no clear plan of action has emerged.
He seems to have followed up with an email, too:
.@BernieSanders email to his delegates: "Our credibility as a movement will be damaged by booing, turning of backs, walking out .."— Ken Thomas (@KThomasDC) July 25, 2016
According to Politico, the Sanders’s campaign has deployed Ben Jealous, a vocal advocate for the Vermont senator throughout the primary and the former president of the NAACP, “to try to calm Sanders supporters” on the floor. Of course, they aren’t the only people who are unhappy in Philadelphia right now. His supporters have been protesting in the city streets since Sunday.
‘The rationale behind the DNC’s schedule this week is beginning to look a lot clearer in light of the raucous atmosphere and booing from Sanders supporters that has greeted the opening of the convention this afternoon. The early speakers are all praising the Sanders campaign and touting the reforms it won for the nominating process, and both Sanders and another liberal favorite, Elizabeth Warren, will be speaking in prime time tonight. The goal seems to be to dispense with the unpleasantness early and hope that the remaining three nights will be more of a show of unity. Whether the Sanders supporters in Philadelphia cooperate with that objective is another question entirely.
Wellington Webb, the former mayor of Denver, just played peacemaker. “The primary season has brought some issues to light that we have to address as a Democratic family,” he said. “It’s not required that we always agree. But it is vital that we always move forward together.”
Cheer for both candidates, he told the crowd. “Just as we watched LeBron James and Steph Curry shake hands after a well-fought finals, we know the country is eager to watch these two giants move forward together,” he said.
Voice votes have long been a means for convention chairs to steamroll through controversial issues. Four years ago, the Democratic convention chair, Antonio Villaraigosa, had to call three times for a vote on recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and it was not at all clear the ayes actually had it when he finally declared that they did.
“We have a choice. A profound choice this November. And we have to make this choice at a time when the country finds itself at a crossroad of history and hope,” the convention chair, Representative Marcia Fudge, said in her opening address. Although the boos in the crowd represented a fractious start to the proceedings, Fudge promised “a different kind of convention than the one we saw in Cleveland last week.”
Her remarks represented what seems to be a purposeful effort among Democrats to stress diversity in the party and its ideas as a contrast to the Republican National Convention and party. With multiple speakers of color, a choir from a black church, and prominent positioning of diverse elected officials, it is clear that even more than years in the past, the Democratic Party is presenting itself as the party of America’s current demographics.
If voice votes ever had legitimacy in political proceedings, this might be the year that illusion dies. Twice now, the leader of the DNC has ruled for the “ayes” from the stage despite significant and vocal “nays” from the body of delegates. Their colleagues across the aisle pulled something similar on the first day of the RNC.
If politicians don’t want delegates’ votes to count, it’s probably better not to ask them at all—at least that way, they can pretend there's no dissent among the ranks.
Marcia Fudge, the Ohio congresswoman and new Democratic National Convention permanent chair, is trying to get through her remarks, but Bernie Sanders supporters keep booing throughout them, particularly when she mentions Hillary Clinton. “There are many of you who do not know me ... but let me say to you, I intend to be fair,” Fudge said. “I am going to be respectful of you, and I want you to be respectful of me. We are all Democrats and we need to act like it.”
The DNC just issued a formal apology for the email leak. “On behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email,” the statement reads. Attached are the names Donna Brazile, the incoming interim chair, as well as Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Andrew Tobias, Raymond Buckley, Maria Elena Durazo, and others.
Expressing further regret, the statement reads: “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.” It adds that the “DNC is taking appropriate action to ensure it never happens again.”
Ruby Gilliam, 93, just took on the stage to lead the convention in the Pledge of Allegiance. She wore a vest from the women’s division of the U.S. Naval Reserve, where she served in World War II. This is her eighth time at the Democratic National Convention. We wrote about her today here.
Donald Trump is counter-programming the Democratic National Convention with his own events all week, beginning with a rally he held Monday afternoon in Roanoke, Virginia. Happy to be rid of the TelePrompter he used for his speech in Cleveland last week, Trump devoted much of his remarks to an extended riff on the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the rift within the Democratic Party.
“I always knew she was highly overrated,” Trump said of the soon-to-be-former DNC chairwoman. “She just got fired. They said, Debbie, you’re fired! Get out!” Trump touted the polls giving him a sizable convention bounce—“We got the biggest bounce that anyone can remember,” he said, inaccurately. Trump also briefly—and puzzlingly—noted the accusation that it was Russia who was responsible for the hack of the DNC’s email that led to Wasserman Schultz’s downfall. “Whether you like her or not, she worked very hard to rig the system for Hillary,” he said. “Little did she know that China, Russia, one of our many, many friends came in and hacked the hell out of us.”
Then he turned his attention to Hillary Clinton, criticizing her first for the “disloyalty” she showed Wasserman Schultz and then for the “bad judgment” she displayed in selecting Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate. Rather than calling her “Crooked Hillary,” Trump seemed to be trying out a new pejorative for Clinton. “Why did Hillary get rid of her middle name?” he asked at one point, referring to Clinton’s decision more than a decade ago to stopped going by Hillary Rodham Clinton in her campaign literature. “No, but why did she get rid of it? Hillary Rotten Clinton,” Trump mused. “Maybe that’s why? It’s too close.”
In all, this was peak Trump—a candidate clearly enjoying his sudden boost in the polls and perhaps even more, the lack of a script designed to keep him on message.
I'm not counting or anything, but I'm pretty sure there have been more people of color on stage in the first 30 minutes of the Democratic National Convention than the entirety of the Republican National Convention.
I am counting.
The Republican convention certainly had its fair share of people who've been in the entertainment industry—Donald Trump included. But the Democrats' star power is of a higher wattage. Appearing tonight: Boyz II Men, which performed after Rawlings-Blake spoke; Demi Lovato; and Paul Simon.
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, mayor of Baltimore, just gaveled the convention into session. (Well, she almost didn't—she had to dash back to podium to actually bang the gavel after her opening remarks.) As Emma noted, she's the last-minute replacement for Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is presumably on a plane back to Florida.
Before she came onstage, a choir from the historic Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church, which celebrated its 200th anniversary this year, kicked off the convention with their rendition of “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” And now the delegates are watching a (very) long informercial about the wonders of the City of Brotherly Love from the Philadelphia tourism bureau.
It is kind of remarkable that the DNC is giving such a primetime spot to Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who gaveled in the session. She had a rough year: She presided over the turmoil in Charm City following the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of police. As a result, she's not running for reelection; once a promising up-and-comer in the party, she's suffered pretty big political hits during her short time in office.
Maybe they were just out of options: With the chaos following Debbie Wasserman Schultz's resignation, the party may have not have had many choices for a sub in leadership.
If things had gone differently in the 1970s, Tim Kaine may not have been speaking at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday. Instead, he might have been covering someone else’s speech from the press gallery.
In a recent interview, Hillary Clinton’s newly minted running mate revealed that he went to college to become a journalist. But that changed soon after arriving on the campus of the University of Missouri.
As Kaine tells it:
I came of age during Watergate and crusading journalists made a huge impression on me when I was growing up. But I’ll tell you a joke that’s on [journalists], but it’s ultimately a joke about me. So, I went to Mizzou and I started to work on the student paper. And everybody who was there like me—who was a prospective journalism student—they were too cynical. And I started to think, ‘Man, I can’t believe how cynical these folks are and if I hang out with them for my entire time at Mizzou, I will not be fit to live with.’
So a young Kaine changed direction and graduated with a degree in economics. “I decided to veer out of journalism,” he said with a smile, coming to his punch line. “And I went into the entirely un-cynical professions of lawyer and politician. So the joke ends up being on me.”
The personal stories of Alzheimer’s patients are a powerful motivator for lawmakers to invest public dollars into disease research. But so, too, is the ballooning cost of taking care of those patients.
Those were two lines of argument presented by Democratic legislators at a convention forum Monday, as they described why the nation needs to invest more in Alzheimer’s disease research. Lawmakers have appealed to the personal and fiscal before when it comes to beefing up research budgets—specifically, those at the National Institutes of Health. And it’s worked before: For the second year in a row, in 2017, the agency is likely to see an increase in its funding, including dedicated money for Alzheimer’s.
At the forum, a sponsored Atlantic event focusing on the condition, lawmakers emphasized that both public and private investment is necessary to combat Alzheimer’s and its effects. As Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow noted, one out of every five Medicare dollars goes to Alzheimer’s.
“We don’t even have to cure Alzheimer’s—if we’re able to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s five years it will cut in half the suffering, the cost, the trauma,” said Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer, who founded the Congressional Neuroscience Caucus. “Because in that period of time, for older people, something else will catch up with you.” Lawmakers called for more investigations, in general, into the brain—what Stabenow called “the least-researched organ in our bodies.” The Obama administration has similarly advocated for neuroscience research, launching the BRAIN Initiative in 2013. In 2017, that effort may also see an increase in congressional funding.
Tom Brophy, who spoke at the event Monday as an early-onset Alzheimer’s patient and research advocate, pushed for more education for patients and physicians. And more understanding, too. Remarking that patients operate under a “new normal,” Brophy said some people “don’t want to deal with you anymore.”
“Don’t ignore us,” he told the audience. “We’re still out there.”
Acting DNC Chair Donna Brazile addressed the black and Hispanic caucuses earlier today, using the opportunity to apologize for the leaked emails that show the committee’s staff were less than civil in their correspondence about the Sanders campaign.
“With a humble heart, I want to say something as your vice chair. I sincerely apologize, my friends, for those of you who took offense and were offended, feel betrayed and were betrayed, by the ridiculous, insensitive, and inappropriate emails from the staff of the Democratic Party,” Brazile said. “Those words do not reflect the spirit of this party.”
At the black caucus meeting, Brazile made it clear that she was personally apologizing “because I represent you, too!” Those gathered welcomed her words with enthusiastic cheers. She delivered a similar message to the Hispanic caucus and added: “If I have to clear out some desks to open up opportunity for some of you in this room to fill them I will,” she said.
Coming from any other politician this might be perceived as working the room and making unrealistic promises. But coming from Brazile, who is a woman of color held in very high esteem within and outside the party, it comes across more as an IOU from someone who pays her debts.
Former Vice President Al Gore is endorsing Hillary Clinton. His announcement came over Twitter:
I am not able to attend this year’s Democratic convention, but I will be voting for Hillary Clinton. (1/3)— Al Gore (@algore) July 25, 2016
Gore, who didn’t attend the 2012 convention, either, went on to cite Clinton’s “qualifications and experience” as reasons for supporting her. The endorsement is a long time coming. Gore is no stranger to the Clintons—he served as vice president in Bill Clinton’s administration before running for president himself in 2000—but he has stayed mum about backing Clinton for months. A Politico report published late last year provided insights into why:
Gore’s reticence, his friends and allies say, is in part to maximize his own leverage on fighting climate change. But his repeated demurrals also reflect a complicated relationship with his former boss’s wife that dates back more than two decades. While Gore and Hillary Clinton may not be enemies, they’re not exactly close friends, either.
The Hill notes that Gore “had been the highest-ranking Democratic holdout for the Clinton campaign.”
Debbie Wasserman Schultz will not address the Democratic National Convention at all, she told Florida's Sun Sentinel newspaper. “I have decided that in the interest of making sure that we can start the Democratic convention on a high note that I am not going to gavel in the convention,” Wasserman Schultz told the newspaper.
Her decision will spare the Democratic Party the unpleasant spectacle of seeing their convention open with delegates showering the unpopular party chairwoman with boos. Wasserman Schultz announced her resignation on Sunday following an extensive leak of DNC emails. Still, she had planned to preside over the convention before stepping down.
But after delegates in her home state of Florida booed Wasserman Schultz at a delegation breakfast on Monday morning, it became clear that any appearance she made on the convention stage would be an ugly scene. Democratic Party operatives criticized her insistence on speaking at the convention. “Wasserman Schultz should get on the next plane to Florida,” veteran consultant Robert Shrum tweeted shortly before she made the decision to withdraw.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will gavel in the proceedings on Monday afternoon. (Updated July 25 at 2:03 p.m.)
Hillary Clinton’s odds of winning the White House have taken a hit in recent days, according to Greg DePetris, the co-founder and CEO of Pivit, a prediction market that draws on historical data and the wisdom of crowds to predict the outcome of events.
“I think right now we stand at Hillary at about 60 percent odds to win and Donald Trump at 40 percent, which is a significant change over the last week or 10 days or so. It’s about a 13 percent move down for Hillary,” DePetris said at an event hosted by The Atlantic in Philadelphia.
Elaborating on what accounts for what the prediction market currently shows, DePetris said: “What you’re seeing factored into today’s price movements are any combination of things. It could be the results out of the GOP convention. It could be what’s going on here in Philadelphia. It could be more information coming out of some of the more recent polls, that lead to more concerning data points for Hillary.”
The announcement that Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia would be Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential pick also had an impact on the prediction markets. “The interesting story there was Tim Kaine’s impact on the Virginia market,” DePetris said, “the underlying state-level market, I think he moved that from, I want to say 65 to 76 or so,” in terms of the odds that Clinton will win Virginia. “That was a significant impact,” DePetris added.
Robby Mook is promising calm at the convention. In the wake of controversy over the Democratic National Committee's impartiality during the primary, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager is betraying no signs of worry that Bernie Sanders-aligned forces could make a stink, as Donald Trump's detractors did last week at the Republican National Convention.
Instead, Mook touted Monday night's lineup of speakers as evidence the Democrats have it all together. Exhibit A: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who's “coming to double-down” on his formal endorsement of Clinton earlier this month. “He's going to be talking about how we are stronger together when we join forces as a party, to take on the rigged system and get this economy working for everyone,” Mook said at a press conference. He maintained that DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz's resignation was her own decision, and didn't elaborate on any involvement from the Clinton campaign.
Mook mentioned Texas Senator Ted Cruz by name for his refusal to endorse his party's nominee—a foil to Senator Sanders—and bragged that Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf supports Clinton. It was a clear reference to Ohio Governor John Kasich, who along with other prominent anti-Trump Republicans demonstrated the “utter discord” within the party. The Democrats' convention, he said, “could not be a greater contrast.”
Last week, Pew Research Center examined how often Republican voters switched who their favorite candidates was during the long primary. Only a quarter of GOP voters consistently picked Trump throughout the election, but that plurality built enough momentum to carry him to the convention.
It turns out liberal voters were similarly indecisive, Pew revealed today. A similar study showed that nearly half of liberal-leaning voters changed their minds at least once, wavering between Sanders, Clinton and the small cadre of hopefuls and also-rans. That's less than the two-thirds of Republicans who switched their vote at some point, but it's still significant: Republicans had more than a dozen candidates in the field, while Democrats had only a handful.
Twenty-nine percent of liberal voters consistently supported Clinton, compared to the 20 percent who stuck with Sanders the whole way. Nearly all now say they'll vote for the former secretary of state, including the former Sanders supporters, who favor Clinton over Trump nine to one. Interestingly, diehard Sanders fans aren't the ones holding out; it's the people who changed their minds during the primary who are more likely to vote for Trump or another candidate, albeit by a small margin.
The study shows Elizabeth Warren's decision to stay out of the race proved a major boon to the Vermont senator; 26 percent of his support in August 2015 came from former Warren fans, pushing him from 2 percent to 22 percent in the polls. And Vice President Joe Biden could have played a potent role had he entered the race. On the strength of rumor alone, he pulled away 6 percent of Clinton's vote in summer 2016.
Adding to the drama at the Democratic convention, Bernie Sanders delegates are warning of the possibility of a revolt. At a press conference this morning, Norman Solomon of the Bernie Delegates Network, identified as a network that “includes 1,250 Sanders delegates” explained how unhappy delegates might protest at the convention.
According to Solomon, “the exact configurations of the protests are unclear, but it’s evident that a substantial majority of the polled survey delegates support participating, say they want to participate in protests on the floor.” He added: “in part in connection with Hillary Clinton’s appearance, even more so than in the scheduled acceptance speech of Tim Kaine, although there’s a majority in that realm as well.” Solomon added that there is “strong” and “overwhelming support for a challenge to Tim Kaine’s nomination.”
Karen Bernal, a representative of the California Sanders delegation, indicated that delegates may protest Debbie Wasserman Schultz at the convention as well. “I don’t consider booing and chanting and being noisy and rude to be harmful. It’s just a part of democracy,” she said. When asked if she expects delegates to boo Wasserman Schultz, Bernal replied: “I would be very surprised if you could have a conversation in normal tones.”
Will all this talk jeopardize Democratic unity? “The Bernie Sanders delegates understand full well the necessity of defeating Donald Trump,” Solomon said, explaining that “one of the reasons we are so upset by the selection of Tim Kaine [as Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential pick] is that we believe, contrary to the assertions of the punditocracy … this is not a move that will solidify support from progressives. It’s not a move we believe will strengthen our hand in defeating Trump.”
I spent most of yesterday following the protests for clean energy and for Bernie Sanders up and down Broad Street in Philadelphia. The two protests were almost coextensive: it was hard to figure out where one began and one ended, aside from the loud chants against Debbie Wasserman Schultz during the Sanders portion. Thousands of protesters marched from the areas around the convention center in Center City—where the administrative and press center of the Democratic National Convention is located—down four miles or so to Roosevelt Park across from the Wells Fargo Center, where the convention proceedings will take place.
What struck me most about the protests was how the city prepared for them. Police officers did not stand in intimidating riot gear in spatial opposition to protesters. Rather, most officers I saw were actively facilitating protests, blocking off streets in front of and behind the protests to allow them to move smoothly. Some other officers passed out water in the crowds. Three street sweeper trucks and a team of sanitation workers cleaned up trash and errant signs. Despite stretching for blocks and featuring real expressions of anger, it was almost impossible three blocks down from the protest to even know it was happening at all. Local officials and convention planners have said they wanted to make the city as conducive to protests as possible, and it seems that they’re off to a good start so far.
Pundits largely panned the Republican National Convention in Cleveland as a poorly organized display of GOP division, and they dismissed Donald Trump’s acceptance speech as overly grim, long, and loudly delivered. But it appears that both the convention and Trump’s address played better with actual voters.
The newly-minted Republican nominee earned a significant bump in polling, surging into the lead in a CNN/ORC survey released Monday morning. Trump now leads by three percentage points in a head-to-head matchup, 48 to 45—a 10-point swing from a CNN poll that had Clinton up by seven prior to the convention. A CBS poll with Trump ahead by one point showed less of a bump; the previous survey had the race tied. Trump also gained ground in a Los Angeles Times/USC tracking poll and in a Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll conducted during the convention. The results were enough to shift the race to Trump’s favor in Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight model, which now gives the Republican a 57.5 percent chance of winning if the election were held today. Less than two weeks ago, the same formula gave Clinton a more than 80 percent chance of victory.
There is, of course, a huge caveat to the polling that has come out in the first few days following the RNC. Convention bounces are common after each party gets its uninterrupted, four-day infomercial, and Hillary Clinton could expect a similar surge after the Democrats are done in Philadelphia. “I would suspend any polling analysis until after our convention,” Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook told reporters in Philadelphia on Monday.
What is significant about Trump’s bounce, however, is it suggests Republicans may have been more successful at getting their message out and unifying rank-and-file members of the party base than the political press gave them credit for. (In particular, the CNN poll showed large movement toward Trump from white voters without a college degree.) The numbers put more pressure on Democrats in Philadelphia to counter Trump’s vision and reverse Clinton’s recent slide. Starting next week, we’ll see if they were successful.
Hillary Clinton announced the man who will help her take on Donald Trump on Friday—and he’s taking to Spanish-language media networks to do it.
Tim Kaine joined Telemundo for an interview, which will be aired on two of Telemundo’s programs Monday—one in the morning and another in the evening. In the interview, which was done completely in Spanish and also comes on the opening day of the Democratic National Convention, Kaine said that Hispanics are seen as “second-class citizens” by Donald Trump.
Kaine has demonstrated his ability to speak Spanish on the campaign trail before. Over the weekend, he kicked off his speech at a Miami rally in Spanish. “Bienvenidos a todos en nuestro pais, porque somos Americanos todos,” he said. Translated, he said, “Welcome to everyone in our country, because we are all Americans.”
Hispanics largely back Clinton over Trump, according to polls. But in her VP search, Clinton reportedly factored in the ability to speak Spanish fluently, at one point also looking at Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro. As The Washington Post reports, however, doing so shows a misunderstanding of the electorate. A Pew Research Center survey shows why: Seventy-one percent of Hispanic adults don’t think speaking Spanish is necessary to identify as Hispanic. So while Kaine may speak Spanish—and do it often—this kind of outreach effort may fall short if policy areas important to the Hispanic community aren’t addressed.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz is not having an easy week. And it's only Monday.
As Priscilla mentioned earlier, the Democratic National Committee chair said Sunday that she'll be leaving her post once the Philadelphia convention is over. That move is in response to public fallout from a massive email leak, the contents of which seemed to confirm DNC officials were against Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in the primary.
On Monday morning, Schultz got a preview of the negative reaction she could face this week from the convention floor. At a breakfast for the Florida delegation, which represents her home state, Schultz was booed during her short remarks. NBC News' Andrea Mitchell captured some of the scene in a video:
.@DWStweets booed off the stage at her own FL delegation breakfast @NBCNews pic.twitter.com/GMe0g9t1JQ— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) July 25, 2016
CNN reports that some in the crowd displayed signs calling out the email leak and yelled "Shame!" as Schulz spoke. She tried to get the crowd to calm down—“I can see there’s a little bit of interest in my being here, and I can appreciate that interest,” Schultz said, according to ABC News—but left the stage amidst the heckling. Schultz will have more interaction with the delegates as she gavels each session of the convention in and out. It won't be a good look for Democratic unity if she's met each time with boos.
One early parallel between the RNC and the DNC: Thunderstorms shook both Cleveland and Philadelphia early in the mornings of the day one, as if ordered up by Aaron Sorkin to underscore the foreboding mood in much of the country. This was an extra hardship for folks camping outdoors for the duration. And with today's weather forecast showing 97 degree highs and rain, more heat, humidity, and perhaps more thunder is ahead.