DNC 2016: Bernie Sanders pleads with his supporters to vote for Hillary Clinton

Many of the Vernmont senator's supporters have expressed concern about Ms Clinton

Andrew Buncombe
Philadelphia
Tuesday 26 July 2016 05:02 BST
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Bernie Sanders endorses Hillary Clinton in passionate plea

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

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On a day that began in Philadelphia with division and disunity, Bernie Sanders finished it by delivering a speech that may well have secured Hillary Clinton the White House.

In a defiant, soaring address to end a day of intense and sometimes painful political drama, the Vermont senator urged those of his supporters who were disinclined to support Ms Clinton, to think of the alternative. He spelled out his case in a logical yet emotional appeal, in which he made clear the risk of permitting the victory of Donald Trump.

“Let me begin by thanking the hundreds of thousands of Americans who actively participated in our campaign as volunteers,” he said, after cheers that lasted three or four minutes and prevented him from starting his speech.

Many of Mr Sanders supporters were loathe to vote for Ms Clinton
Many of Mr Sanders supporters were loathe to vote for Ms Clinton (AP)

“Let me thank the 13 million Americans who voted for the political revolution, giving us the 1,846 pledged delegates here tonight – 46 per cent of the total.”

Mr Sanders was speaking on a day that had seen loud, often toxic divisions play out on the streets of Philadelphia and in the meeting rooms and conference chambers where the politicians and delegates gathered.

More than 1,000 of his supporters took up a position outside Philadelphia City Hall, adamant that they would not vote for Ms Clinton. Others, heckled the Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was forced to stand down after the release of emails that showed the DNC had plotted against Mr Sanders and supported Ms Clinton.

The 74-year-old former mayor of Burlington even found himself getting booed when he addressed his supporters and told them there was no alternative to voting for Ms Clinton.

On Monday night, aware that the success or otherwise of Ms Clinton’s attempt to win the White House could depend on ensuring those who turned out for him in countless droves are persuaded to vote for her, said that America had a decision of great significance to make.

Bernie Sanders endorses Hillary Clinton

“I understand that many people here in this convention hall and around the country are disappointed about the final results of the nominating process. I think it’s fair to say that no one is more disappointed than I am,” he said.

“But to all of our supporters – here and around the country – I hope you take enormous pride in the historical accomplishments we have achieved.”

He suggested that the insurgent campaign that had caught everyone by surprise - the Democratic socialist had been promoting the same polices for more than four decades - was not going to end.

“We have begun a political revolution to transform America and that revolution – our revolution – continues. Election days come and go,” he said.

“But the struggle of the people to create a government which represents all of us and not just the one percent – a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice – that struggle continues. And I look forward to being part of that struggle with you.”

Mr Sanders, who said he had secured a series of commitments from Ms Clinton to include many of the progressive policies he championed in the party's platform, said the election had not been about personalities.

“This election is not about, and has never been about, Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump, or Bernie Sanders or any of the other candidates who sought the presidency,” he said.

“This election is about – and must be about – the needs of the American people and the kind of future we create for our children and grandchildren.”

Even though he always some way behind his Democratic rival in the primary race, he insisted on campaigning and contesting every state, in order, he said, to make sure everyone’s voice was heard and every vote counted.

“We need leadership in this country which will improve the lives of working families, the children, the elderly, the sick and the poor. We need leadership which brings our people together and makes us stronger – not leadership which insults Latinos, Muslims, women, African-Americans and veterans – and divides us up,” he said.

“By these measures, Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States. The choice is not even close.”

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