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In opening moments of convention, Democratic unity seems elusive

Sanders urged his followers to support Clinton. They weren’t all having it.

Sanders has encouraged his supporters to back Hillary Clinton. But they’re not all convinced.
REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The first mention of Hillary Rodham Clinton during the Democratic National Convention — less than a half hour in, during the opening prayer — was met with jeers and chants of “Bernie!”

As Democrats begin their gathering in Philadelphia today, the supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders are making their presence known, and many are making clear their lingering opposition to Clinton, whether or not their movement’s icon is with them anymore.

Sanders, in a speech to his supporters before the convention gaveled in on Monday afternoon, called on his supporters to back Clinton, and proclaimed he will work hard to elect her and her running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine — a statement met with boos from his own supporters.

Many Minnesota Sanders delegates attended that speech, skipping a scheduled welcome event for the state delegation on a restaurant-boat anchored on the Delaware River.

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MinnPost found a few Sanders delegates afterward, each of whom praised generally what the Vermont senator had to say on policy and the issues.

Gabe Aderhold, a delegate from Edina sporting a Bernie button on his lapel, said he hopes the convention is a chance to unite. “I hope we move in a more progressive path,” he said, saying he’s listening for increased commitment to climate change and criminal-justice reform from the speakers.

“I’m looking for her to reach out to all of us and voice her political platform on progressive issues. I’m going to be listening.”

Lisa Bender, a member of the Minneapolis City Council, said Sanders gave a great speech, and that she was disappointed that he was met with boos from the crowd.

“I’ve endorsed Hillary, and I’m ready to work to elect a Democratic president this year,” she said, adding she expects her to highlight key issues of the Bernie coalition, such as trade, the minimum wage, and affordable college.

To some, Sanders’ call to back Clinton — and Kaine, who has a reputation for centrism that does not sit well with Sanders supporters — still doesn’t feel right.

Rod Halvorson, the co-chair for the Sanders delegation at the DNC, stood in the Minnesota section wearing a “Bernie for President” shirt.

“I was very pleased with his comments on the issues he still feels are important. The main thing I thought he said to us is, we want to continue that revolution after the convention,” he said, adding he was very happy with that section of the speech.

The whole Clinton-Kaine business, Halvorson said, not so much. “Bernie has made a decision that he is going to support the election in November for Hillary. … I understand why he said what he said. And he’ll probably say it again tonight. Still, it was sad.”

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Halvorson says that Clinton is still a far better option than Donald Trump, but said Clinton has missed opportunities to win over the progressive base.

“He did his duty for Hillary, that’s for sure,” he said of Sanders. “But it was still a sad message for his true-blue followers.”

Some of his fellow Minnesota Sanders delegates appeared to agree during the speech of Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge — the honorary chair of the convention — in which she called for unity and praised Clinton.

As the crowd booed Fudge’s praise of Clinton, pro-Sanders signs and anti-TPP signs popped up across the arena — and among the Sanders contingent of the Minnesota delegation.