DWS Gets Booed as Dems Prepare to Gavel In Contentious Convention
The #DNCLeak is akin to 'ripping off the scab and reopening it,' said one pollster
Outgoing Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who announced Sunday that she would step down after leaked emails showed party officials working throughout the primary season to undermine the insurgent campaign of Bernie Sanders, was greeted by boos in Philadelphia on Monday morning.
It was the latest indication that the Democratic National Convention (DNC), which officially begins Monday, will be marred by the very sort of establishment-versus-progressive discord that party officials had hoped to avoid.
Many attendees arrived over the weekend to participate in Saturday's "People's Convention" or in overlapping demonstrations supporting both the candidacy of Bernie Sanders and a clean energy revolution on Sunday.
Some spoke of feeling betrayed by the party apparatus. "It just validated everything we thought, everything we believed to be true, that this was completely rigged right from the beginning, and that you know it was really about what they were doing everything to set it up so she would win," Sanders supporter Gwen Sperling told Reuters, referring to the #DNCLeak.
According to Matt Pearce of the Los Angeles Times, the news of Wasserman Schultz's resignation "brought a roar" from the pro-Sanders crowd in the streets on Sunday: "DEBBIE! IS! GONE! DEBBIE! IS! GONE!"
But her ouster, couched as it was by her vow to be present at the convention and beyond—by supportive words from presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton—may not be enough to win over skeptical Sanders supporters.
"She should have resigned many months ago," RootsAction co-founder and national coordinator for the Bernie Delegates Network Norman Soloman said of Wasserman Schultz. "Now the question looms over us here in Philadelphia: Why not immediately? Why wait till the end of the week?"
Given this latest scandal, plus lingering dissatisfaction with Clinton's choice of vice-presidential running mate Tim Kaine, the convention "risks undermining public attempts to show that Democrats have come together as a party and draw a contrast with chaotic scenes at on the floor at the Republican convention in Cleveland last week," the Guardian wrote on Monday.
"The wound hasn't healed yet," Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, told USA Today. "It's ripping off the scab and reopening it. [...] What [Democrats] were hoping for is a clean convention with Sanders sending a very clear signal with his speech that 'We're all united behind Clinton.' These email leaks just make it harder for some of his supporters to do that in a very enthusiastic way."
Wasserman Schultz faced a display of disunity at a meeting of Florida Democratic delegates on Monday morning, "with critics holding up signs with the word 'Emails' and Bernie Sanders supporters booing the congresswoman loudly, even after she began speaking," CNN reported.
According to Politico's report on the "bedlam":
When Wasserman Schultz entered the room, the crowd hushed momentarily and then her supporters began cheering. As she began talking, though, audience members[...] with Bernie Sanders shirts started shouting and yelling waving signs that said "Thanks for the 'Help' Debbie" and signs that simply read "e-mails."
Wasserman Schultz is still slated to gavel in the convention later Monday, although she will is not expected to deliver any larger speech.
Her remarks were drowned out both by cheers and boos from the crowd. The Florida congresswoman, who faces a primary challenge from Bernie Sanders-backed candidate Tim Canova, attempted to pivot away from the party discord immediately, noting the overnight shooting at at a Florida nightclub.
— Patricia Mazzei (@PatriciaMazzei) July 25, 2016
And Wasserman Schultz wasn't the only one facing jeers on Monday: the Los Angeles Times reports that Sanders supporters, "upset over the disclosure of Democratic National Committee emails showing officials privately discussing ways to help Hillary Clinton beat Sanders, repeatedly shouted down speakers at the California delegation's breakfast Monday morning."
Fifty-three-year-old Bruce Jones told the paper: "Bernie Sanders has brought a lot of passionate new energy to the party and the party should maybe consider their messaging on how to win us over. Apparently their messaging today is not winning us over."
There were also reports of tumult at the Nevada delegation breakfast.
Sanders himself is expected to address his 1,900 delegates in a "special meeting" at 12:30pm EDT on Monday—before he speaks to the full convention during prime time Monday night.
Both Sanders and campaign manager Jeff Weaver tried to push the idea of Democratic unity in statements on Sunday and Monday.
"This happened, we knew it happened then, now is the time to go forward," Weaver told CNN's Chris Cuomo on "New Day" on Monday. "Now is the time to elect Hillary Clinton and defeat Donald Trump."