S.C. Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison called for all 53 of the state’s delegates to link arms Monday in support of Hillary Clinton, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, even as 14 of them will cast ballots for Bernie Sanders.
During a lively breakfast meeting at the delegation’s Philadelphia hotel, Harrison described the discord between Sanders and Clinton supporters as nearly identical to the tension on display eight years ago after Clinton suspended her presidential bid to endorse then-Sen. Barack Obama.
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey repeated the call to unite. Doing so would show the American public a stark contrast to last week’s Republican National Convention, he said.
“We saw the darkness, the negativity, the divisiveness. We saw a party that had no unifying idea but the fact that they wanted to try to arrest their opposition like a third-world country,” Booker said. “We are here for a different reason.”
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Repeating advice passed down from his grandfather and father, Booker told delegates to respond with grace in the face of trash-talking opponents.
“They are going to attack Hillary Clinton. They are going to attack Democrats,” he said. “Donald Trump can’t get through a week without attacking some category of Americans. It’s not what they say about us. It’s what we choose to do.”
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, who supported Sanders, said Democrats have made their presidential pick.
“At this point, this thing has been decided, so I’m supporting Hillary Clinton,” Ellison said, noting Democrats need to win state and local elections as well.
“Yes, we’ve got to have unity, but we can’t just have unity at the top,” he added.
Although the last Democratic presidential candidate to win South Carolina in a general election was Jimmy Carter, in 1976, convention-goers remain optimistic this could be their year.
“It is just a matter of time before South Carolina goes blue,” Ellison added.