Sanders has special words for Northern New Englanders
PHILADELPHIA >> Speaking to northern New England delegates Wednesday morning, Bernie Sanders continued to urge support for Hillary Clinton in the general election while suggesting she won't get a pass if she doesn't live up to her promises to his devoted followers.
Sanders' argument for supporting Clinton focused almost exclusively on Republican nominee Donald Trump, who Sanders said was running a "disgusting campaign" focused on bigotry.
"What we are dealing with now is something kind of unique and I believe, quite honestly, the worst Republican candidate in the modern history of the United States of America," Sanders said. "What makes him unique and extremely dangerous is he is a demagogue."
He also praised the Democratic platform and Clinton's work to update her college affordability plan, which moved closer to his. But in a sign of solidarity with disenchanted delegates, the Vermont senator also implied Clinton needed to be held accountable for her promises.
"It's not just about electing candidates. It's about transforming America and making sure the candidates who are elected remain accountable to the people," he said.
Sanders has served a crucial role throughout the Democratic National Convention in bringing his most staunch supporters into the Clinton camp.
Essex Junction state Rep. Tim Jerman, who serves as vice chair of the Vermont Democratic Party, said he never had any doubt Sanders would commit his time and energy to electing Clinton. While polls show a majority of Sanders supporters are now backing Clinton, Jerman said he thinks even some "Bernie or Bust" voters will change their minds in the coming weeks.
"If you talk to all those people who uttered a 'boo,' a month from now you will get a very different reaction from them," Jerman said. "I think many will come around following the warnings they are getting from everyone about the dangers of a Trump presidency."
Besides his primetime speech Monday and a symbolic gesture to nominate Clinton on Tuesday, Sanders has spoken at many state delegate breakfasts throughout the week, all in service of her candidacy.
Although Clinton's name received frequent boos Monday on the first night of the convention, disapproval seems to have subsided. When Sanders mentioned her at the Wednesday delegate breakfast, audience members cheered.
A number of pro-Sanders delegates protested after Clinton was officially nominated Tuesday, but many said their civil disobedience did not mean they wouldn't vote for the former secretary of state.
"I am not willing to hand this country over to Donald Trump," said Chris Pumpelly, a Sanders delegate from Kansas. "That is a dangerous, reckless, divisive vision."
Another Sanders delegate, Caleb Humphrey, of Iowa, said that while he wanted more progressive rhetoric from Clinton, he would never vote for Trump.
"I want to see unity. That's important," Humphrey said, "even if that is Hillary."
Besides his talk of the general election, Sanders spent time Wednesday thanking Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire — states that delivered three of his most decisive wins during the primary season.
The kindest words, of course, were directed at the Vermont delegation.
"It brings tears to my eyes — it really does — the kind of support that we have received," Sanders said. "The fact that we won 86 percent of the vote in our own state is something I will never, ever forget. It just means a lot to me — deeply."
The Vermont senator's wife, Jane, got tears in her eyes as he thanked Vermonters for sustaining his energy throughout the grueling campaign.
"I have tried my best to represent the values of our state," he said.
The democratic socialist also thanked New Hampshire for his decisive win there at the start of the primary season, telling the state's delegates, "You got our campaign rolling. "
He then recalled a moment during the Maine caucuses — a contest where he secured 64 percent of the vote — when residents stood in four-hour lines in the frigid air of Portland to cast ballots.
"I said, 'We have struck a nerve, and that is what democracy is about. People want to participate in the process,'" Sanders recalled.
Sanders said he is writing a book on his presidential run and that the Maine anecdote would be in its pages. He added that his campaign is over, made official by Clinton's nomination Tuesday night.
In a sign of his increased prominence in the party, Sanders said President Barack Obama got in touch with him Tuesday night to again offer congratulations on the political revolution he sought to lead.
"He was kind enough to call," Sanders said.
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