At the Republican convention in Cleveland last week, the talk was all about emails and party infighting.Now I’m back in Philly covering the Democrats — same thing.
The Republicans were all abuzz about how the FBI report on Hillary emails showed she was the scoundrel they all thought, and the big question was whether the party now would unite around Donald Trump.Here in Philadelphia, it’s the WikiLeaks emails that show the Democratic National Committee was leaning Hillary’s way all along, making it harder for Bernie Sanders supporters to embrace the ticket.
A grieving process
I checked in with a sampling of Bernie delegates from Pennsylvania this morning, and while many were all-in for backing Hillary and beating Trump, others weren’t feeling it yet.
Anne Kirby, a Sanders delegate from Lancaster said she’s bothered by Clinton’s selection of Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as a running mate, and yes, by the emails.
“I think the system looks a little rigged right now, so trying to unify is going to be a little more difficult,” she said. She said like many Sanders supporters, she’s taking a serious look at Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
“I can’t really say who I’m going to vote for yet,” Kirby said. “I really just need to take all this in.”
Jonathan Fox, another Sanders delegate from Lancaster, said he’s personally ready to vote for Clinton, but “there are people in the Bernie faction that aren’t at that point yet. I want them to go through a grieving process, so they can accept the fact that Bernie will probably not be our nominee.”
To help that, Fox said, “the Hillary Clinton campaign needs to come and not lecture us, but give us good reasons why she is the better candidate as opposed to Trump.”
I also saw Braddock, Pennsylvania, Mayor John Fetterman (at 6’9″ he’s hard to miss), who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate earlier this year. He endorsed Sanders early in the primary battle, but says he’s now urging Sanders supporters to support Clinton.
“In my opinion, if you’re not voting for Hillary, you might as well get a ‘Make America Great’ hat, because you’re working for Donald Trump.”
“We have to move through the division,” Fetterman said, “and I tell people, ‘Look, if it was Sanders, we’d be wanting the same thing from the Hillary camp.'”
Clinton delegates had nothing but praise for the Sanders faithful, and said they’re something between hopeful and confident all will come up together by the end of the week.
At the Pennsylvania delegation’s morning breakfast caucus, party chairman Marcel Groen asked Sanders delegates to stand, and the Clinton folks gave them hearty applause.
The other thing I’ll be watching this week is how delegates and other visitors experience Philadelphia.It doesn’t help that we’ll be doing this in a miserable sauna of a heat wave, but this morning I saw two California delegates gawking at City Hall and wondering what the heck that was.
“Amazing building,” I told them. “The largest free-standing masonry building in the world. No steel supports anywhere. The tour is really worth it.”
I hope others enjoy and manage to get around.