Jul 25, 2016 11:46 PM

Die-hard Sanders backers divided on backing Clinton

The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Bernie Sanders tried to calm tensions among his delegates Monday at the Democratic National Convention but some weren't in a listening mood, seething over a lengthy primary campaign and a damaging email disclosure.

Sanders' delegates chanted the Vermont senator's name during the start of the convention and booed lustily at early mentions of rival Hillary Clinton. When Sanders took the stage as the night's final speaker, he acknowledged that many of his supporters were disappointed. "I think it's fair to say that no one is more disappointed than I am," he said.

Drawing loud cheers throughout, Sanders offered a detailed comparison of Clinton and Republican Donald Trump on an array of policy issues, portraying the election as a simple choice.

"Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president and I am proud to stand with her here tonight," he said.

Behind the scenes, Sanders and his campaign pleaded with his delegates not to disrupt the proceedings. In an email earlier in the day to delegates, he said the credibility of his movement would be "damaged by booing, turning of backs, walking out or other similar displays."

Yet many die-hard backers of Sanders they weren't ready to coalesce around Clinton's presidential bid despite his pleas.

Their frustration was on display a day after Democratic party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced she would step down at the end of the convention. Sanders' loyalists heckled her at a Florida delegation breakfast and many expressed dismay that Clinton had given the Florida congresswoman the position of honorary chair of the campaign's "50-state program." She did not appear at the convention podium and later watched the proceedings from a private suite.

"I'm really annoyed," said Michigan delegate Bruce Fealk. "I want to support Bernie, but I also want to voice my displeasure with the Democratic Party."

Fealk said he viewed the emergence of hacked DNC emails, which suggested favoritism of Clinton, as a revelation and evidence of the party's disrespect for progressives. Others said they simply couldn't support Clinton.

"No, never, not in a million years, no. I wouldn't vote for her for dog catcher," said Melissa Arab, of Shelby Township, Michigan.

From the podium, however, some of Sanders' allies noted their progress in influencing the party's platform and moving to reduce the influence of superdelegates, party leaders and elected officials who help decide the nomination.

"I stand with my Democratic family in making sure we win this fall," said Maine lawmaker Diane Russell, a Sanders supporter. "We are all in this together and we will all have a voice in the Clinton administration."

Earlier, at a raucous meeting with his delegates, Sanders implored them to get behind Clinton and her running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, and defeat Trump. But his appeals elicited a mix of boos and cheers, as delegates shouted, "We want Bernie!"

Sanders' appeal was enough for Deborah Adams, of Cheraw, South Carolina, who served as a whip for the 14 Sanders delegates from her state's delegation.

"I think every delegate should follow Senator Sanders' request," Adams said. "We've worked hard as a movement. It gives us a black eye if we don't control our emotions."

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Associated Press writers Kathleen Ronayne and Erica Werner contributed to this report.

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