As Scandal Swirls, Unity Urged at DNC

Massachusetts delegates for Bernie Sanders meet after the formal delegation breakfast on Monday, July 25, 2016. (Photo by Andrea Asuaje/ BU News Service)
Written by Andrea Asuaje

By Andrea Asuaje
BU News Service

Despite a strong and vocal showing from the Bernie Sanders delegation and an email scandal that has rocked the party, the message for the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia is unity.

The call for coming together was in full force Monday morning at the Massachusetts delegation’s first breakfast gathering. Massachusetts Democratic Chairman Thomas McGee, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, Massachusetts Senate President Stan Rosenberg and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey were among the speakers who took the stage to fire up the crowd.

“We will win because we are a party that actually cares about people,” Healey said. She received a standing ovation from the crowd.

Still, the division between Sanders and Clinton supporters was on display, as the Sanders delegates held a small impromptu meeting in the back of the room after the breakfast was over to discuss logistics and meetings for the week.

Sanders delegate Michael Gilbreath, of Wayland, Massachusetts, said many supporters of the Vermont senator who are at the convention are very unhappy about how they — and their candidate — have been treated by the Democratic party.

“We were outsiders in our own party to begin with,” Gilbreath said.

Gilbreath said the best way to bring Sanders supporters over to the Clinton side would be to acknowledge Sanders and his achievements more during the week.

“Bernie has changed the dialogue,” he said.

The current snafu regarding Democratic Party Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is not making the common-ground goal any easier for some delegates. However, some delegates are insistent that the issue should not mar Clinton’s campaign.

“What happened to the chairwoman is not the nominee,” said State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry, who represents the 1st Suffolk district, which includes Boston and East Boston. “We need to make a clear distinction.”

Forry said focusing on Sanders and how his supporters have been a great source of energy and excitement for the Democratic party is essentially and what the party will need to win in November against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

“We have work to do,” she said. “We can’t go backwards. We are working together to move this country forward.”

Following the breakfast, the delegates gathered for caucus meetings. At the African American caucus, Donna Brazile, who’s been tapped as interim DNC chair, brought the delegates to their feet cheering her on. Sounding like a fiery preacher, she apologized for the email scandal.

“I sincerely apologize my friends. For those of you who took offense. For those of you who feel betrayed and were betrayed by the ridiculous, insensitive and inappropriate emails from the staff of the Democratic Party,” said Brazile.

She said that those words do not reflect the values of the party.

She then said that as interim DNC chair she will do a better job of representing the delegates. And, she said, she would return to her roots. “I’m leaving CNN and ABC to go back to who I really am. I’m an organizer!” she shouted to thunderous applause.

The convention moves on the the Wells Fargo Arena tonight. First Lady Michelle Obama, Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren are scheduled to speak.

BU News Service staff contributed to this report.

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