Some Democrats leave convention aggrieved

PHILADELPHIA- Puja Datta, of Columbus, Ohio, saw someone wearing a Hillary Clinton T-shirt at the bar of the hotel where she was staying this week.

Noticing a fellow Democrat, she went up to say hello.

“She just looked at me, turned around, and walked away,” Datta said outside the Wells Fargo Arena, where Democrats were wrapping up their national convention Thursday night.

Datta’s friend and fellow Bernie Sanders supporter Adam Parsons recounted walking to the arena from the spot where the hotel shuttle stopped.

“There was a Clinton supporter behind me, saying anti-Sanders stuff in a really loud voice,” he said.

Loud enough, said Parsons, that it was obvious the comments were meant for him.

As Democratic delegates fanned back across the country Friday, many remained divided over policy differences between Clinton and Sanders.

But personal divisions lingered, as well, as some went home with festering resentments, much like those of someone who approaches a stranger at a party only to be rebuffed with an eye-roll and turned back.

As Clinton accepted the Democratic nomination for president, becoming the first woman in a major party to do so, there were signs, literally, of Democrats trying to present an image of unity.

Some on the arena floor waved signs with Sanders’ name alongside Clinton’s. And in her speech Thursday, Clinton made a point of reaching out to Sanders’ supporters, echoing a number of priorities espoused by the Vermont senator.

But signs of continued discord, following a bruising primary campaign, were clear, too.

Some Sanders’ supporters resented what they saw as Clinton appropriating their stances, said Kenny Madden, a Sanders delegate from Berea, Kentucky.

They chanted, “Walk the Talk” and “WikiLeaks” during her speech.

The first was a reference to fears that Clinton won’t follow through on issues important to them. The second referred to national Democratic Party emails that seemed to show officials working to defeat Sanders.

Each time, Clinton’s supporters chanted “Hillary” to drown out the Sanders camp.

At times, their chants drowned out Clinton, as well.

Beth Lucas, also a Sanders delegate from Berea, said she was put off by a Clinton delegate who walked past, noticing her and others wearing Sanders T-shirts – even after Sanders had urged his supporters to back Clinton.

The Clinton delegate said “something about how we won’t even follow our leader,” Lucas said, and called them “an interesting group.”

Sanders’ supporters had sought a floor tally of pledged delegates for Clinton and Sanders – separated from the votes of party super-delegates – to illustrate just how close the vote in the primaries had been.

That’s not the party’s procedure, they were told.

“They made us feel like we were trying to crash their club,” complained Derrick Nowlin, a Sanders delegate from Springfield, Missouri.

Amy Powell, also a Sanders delegate from Springfield, said they were made to feel “like we were a thorn in their side.”

Jim Thompson, a Clinton delegate from Rock City, South Carolina, smiled when told of Datta’s experience.

He said he could see it happening.

Thompson said he is one of many Clinton supporters who appreciate the passion of the Sanders camp.

He said some Clinton delegates see themselves as seasoned veterans and Sanders’ supporters as idealistic, earnest newcomers.

“It’s like seniors and freshmen,” he said. “Some seniors can have a way of talking down to freshmen, even if they don’t mean to come across that way.”

Sitting by a food stand inside the arena, Wilhelmina Moore, a Clinton delegate from Philadelphia, acknowledged ribbing people who wore Sanders buttons.

“I said, ‘Take those buttons off,’” she said. “But then I said, ‘It’s fine, keep them on. You paid for them.’

“’But you better be there on Election Day, because that’s what it means to be a true Democrat.’”

Incidents between Sanders and Clinton supports varied by delegation – and in intensity.

Steve Leibowitz, a Sanders delegate from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, said supporters of both went bowling Tuesday in an outing organized by Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

“There wasn’t much talk about politics,” he said. The rivals instead talked about the Red Sox.

Tarin Nix, a Clinton delegate from New Mexico, said she’s been reaching out to Sanders’ supporters, asking them to stay involved in the party.

But resentments linger, particularly after his supporters booed Clinton, and even Sanders himself.

“You have to understand some of the Sanders’ supporters can get passionate when they come up to you,” said Nix.

Ribbing has gone on within the Sanders camp, too, said Jon Hinck, who was wearing a Clinton button next to a Sanders button.

A Sanders delegate from Portland, Maine, Hinck said he asked a friend and fellow Sanders delegate to take a picture of him standing in the Maine delegation’s seats.

When he looked at the photo, he saw his Sanders button.

But the Clinton button had been cut out of the picture.

By Kery Murakami / CNHI Washington Reporter Jul 29, 2016