PHILADELPHIA, United States, Jul 26 – Democratic power players Michelle Obama and Bernie Sanders offered contrasting heartfelt and hard-headed endorsements of Hillary Clinton, imploring a riven and feisty party convention to unite against Donald Trump.
As polls showed Trump ahead of Clinton in the race to the White House, the first lady wowed the Philadelphia crowd as she impeached Trump’s character and hailed the inspirational power of putting a female US president in the White House for the first time.
From Sanders, Clinton’s vanquished primary rival, there was a much more pragmatic embrace.
“Based on her ideas and her leadership” Clinton was a better choice than Trump and “must become the next president of the United States,” he said.
The opening throes of the four-day convention in Philadelphia were dominated by boos and jeers from disgruntled Sanders supporters almost every time Clinton’s name was mentioned.
Sanders had called on his backers to get behind the Democratic nominee twice on Monday before his primetime endorsement speech.
That included a text message sent to supporters asking them not to protest on the floor of the convention as a “personal courtesy” to him.
But Sanders’ self-styled “political revolution” appeared to have transformed into an open revolt.
With some delegates in tears, Sanders received cheers and boos when he told the crowd: “Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president and I am proud to stand with her tonight.”
“Clinton can’t beat Trump. Period,” said Michigan delegate Melissa Arab, a Sanders supporter.
“A ham sandwich could beat Trump and she’s not going to beat him. If she’s nominated, people are going to end up with somebody bad for president.”
Hoping to poach some of Sanders’ supporters, Trump tweeted: “Bernie Sanders totally sold out to Crooked Hillary Clinton. All of that work, energy and money, and nothing to show for it! Waste of time.”
– First family first –
Michelle Obama’s message was at once conciliatory, raw and personal — and earned by far the most positive response of the night.
“Because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all of our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States,” said the wife of America’s first black president, her voice cracking with emotion.