America’s first lady has joined Bernie Sanders to make an impassioned plea for Democrats to get behind Hillary Clinton’s bid to be the nation’s next president.
Seeking to bridge deep Democratic divides, Sanders endorsed former rival Clinton as a champion for the same economic causes that enlivened his supporters, signalling it was time for them too, to support her in the campaign against Republican White House candidate Donald Trump.
“Any objective observer will conclude that, based on her ideas and her leadership, Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States,” Sanders declared in a headlining address on the opening night of the Democratic convention in Philadelphia.
Sanders joined a high-wattage line-up of speakers, including Michelle Obama, whose address all but wiped away earlier tumult in the convention hall that had exposed lingering tensions between Clinton and Sanders supporters.
Obama, who has spent nearly eight years in the White House avoiding political fights, took numerous swipes at Trump, while avoiding mentioning him by name.
“This election and every election is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives,” she said.
“There is only one person I trust with that responsibility, only one person I believe is truly qualified to be president of the United States, and that is Hillary Clinton.”
While Sanders had endorsed Clinton previously, his remarks early yesterday marked his most vigorous and detailed praise of her qualifications for the presidency.
It came at a crucial moment for Clinton’s campaign, on the heels of leaked emails suggesting the party had favoured the former secretary of state through the primaries despite a vow of neutrality.
Sanders scored the resignation of party chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a nemesis in the primaries — but that was not enough to quell the anger of supporters.
As the convention opened, they still erupted in chants of “Bernie” and booed Clinton the first several times her name was mentioned. Outside the convention hall, hundreds marched down Philadelphia’s sweltering streets with signs carrying messages such as “Never Hillary”.
Behind the scenes, Sanders and Clinton aides joined forces to try to ease tensions. Clinton’s campaign quickly added more Sanders supporters to the speakers line-up and Sanders sent urgent messages asking them not to protest.
By the time Sanders took the stage for the night’s closing address, much of the anger had been overshadowed by speeches promoting party unity.
Celebrities unite to oppose Trump
Julianne Moore, Bryan Cranston, Kerry Washington, Mark Ruffalo, Neil Patrick Harris, Lena Dunham, and Macklemore are among more than 100 celebrities who have joined a campaign to urge Americans to deny Donald Trump the White House.
The campaign is part of MoveOn.org Political Action’s #UnitedAgainstHate campaign.
“We believe it is our responsibility to use our platforms to bring attention to the dangers of a Trump presidency, and to the real and present threats of his candidacy,” says an open letter signed by the celebrities.
“Donald Trump wants to take our country back to a time when fear excused violence, when greed fuelled discrimination, and when the state wrote prejudice against marginalised communities into law... Some of us come from the groups Trump has attacked. Some of us don’t. But as history has shown, it’s often only a matter of time before the ‘other’ becomes me.”
The letter says, “we call upon every American to join us”.
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