Furious Sanders Supporters, Angry Media, Blistering Chaos Marks First Day Of Democratic Convention

Democrats were delighted to watch as last week's scandal-plagued Republican National Convention lurched from one fiasco to another until.... the Democratic National Convention was on the verge of crashing and burning (and that is not a pun on the searing Philadelphia heat) during its own disoragnized launch among angry supporters, blistering temperatures, sheer chaos, and a fractured organization that has left Republicans stunned in amazement at a Democratic party seemingly torn in two.

As documented earlier, Bernie Sanders supporters disrupted the first day of the Democratic convention, repeatedly chanting and booing mentions of Hillary Clinton's name as the party's hopes for a show of unity dissolved into frequent chaos. Speakers in the convention's first hour struggled to carry out business as angry Sanders supporters roared their disapproval, drawing a deafening response from Clinton delegates, Reuters adds.

"We're all Democrats and we need to act like it," U.S. Representative Marcia Fudge of Ohio, the convention's chairwoman, shouted over the uproar.

Earlier in the day, Sanders drew jeers from his supporters when he urged his delegates to back the White House bid of his formal rival, Clinton, and focus on defeating Republican Donald Trump in the Nov. 8 presidential election. Sanders' followers shouted: "We want Bernie" in a show of anger at both Clinton's victory in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination and emails leaked on Friday suggesting the party leadership had tried to sabotage Sanders' insurgent campaign.

In an attempt to project unity, former rivals Hillary and Bernie urgently joined forces Monday to tamp down dissent among his supporters, as Democrats tried to keep infighting from overtaking an opening night featuring some of the party's biggest stars, including first lady Michelle Obama.

It was unclear whether the efforts would succeed, AP adds. Chants of "Bernie" echoed through the arena, and boos could be heard nearly every time Clinton's name was raised. Outside the arena, several hundred Sanders backers marched down Philadelphia's sweltering streets changing, "Nominate Sanders or lose in November."

For Hillary, it was a turbulent start to a historic four-day gathering that will culminate in the nomination of the first woman to lead a major U.S. political party. 

Sanders had a better start to the convention, scoring a major victory with the forced resignation of party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz following the release of emails showing her staff favored Clinton during the primary despite vows of neutrality. But Sanders' aides reached out to the Clinton campaign Monday afternoon to express concerns that the chairwoman's ouster wouldn't be enough to keep supporters from disrupting the convention, according to a Democratic official.

Sanders previewed his remarks during an appearance earlier Monday before supportive delegates. He implored them to vote for Clinton, generating a chorus of boos. "Brothers and sisters, this is the real world that we live in," Sanders said as he tried to quiet the crowd. "Trump is a bully and a demagogue."

The discussions between the two camps prompted Sanders to send emails and text messages to supporters asking them not to protest.

"Our credibility as a movement will be damaged by booing, turning of backs, walking out or other similar displays," Sanders wrote.

As Reuters adds, the scenes of booing in Philadelphia were a setback to Democratic officials' attempts to present the gathering as a smoothly run show of party unity in contrast to the volatile campaign of Republican nominee Trump. 

Desperately hoping to appease boisterous Sanders' supporters, moments after the convention opened in Philadelphia, the DNC also apologized to Sanders and his backers "for the inexcusable remarks made over email." The statement was signed by DNC leaders, though Wasserman Schultz's name was notably absent.

The Florida congresswoman's resignation is effective later this week, though she also stepped down from her official convention duties. The mere sight of her on stage had been expected to prompt strong opposition from Sanders' backers. 

Meanwhile, Trump gloated at the Democrats' opening day disorder. "Wow, the Republican Convention went so smoothly compared to the Dems total mess," he wrote on Twitter.

Trump also seemed to enjoy the Clinton campaign's attempt to blame the DNC hack, which is now being investigated by the FBI, on Russian military intelligence agencies. The campaign also accused Moscow of trying to meddle in the U.S. election and help Trump, who has said he might not necessarily defend NATO allies if they are attacked by Russia. Trump dismissed the suggestion in a tweet: "The joke in town is that Russia leaked the disastrous DNC emails, which should never have been written (stupid), because Putin likes me."

But, ironically, the bulk of the democrats' anger was focused not so much on Trump, at least not yet, as on Wasserman Schultz (and in many cases, Hillary herself). Wasserman Schultz, a Florida congresswoman who resigned as the DNC head on Sunday, was the focus of anger from liberal Democrats over some 19,000 DNC emails that were leaked by the WikiLeaks website that showed the party establishment working to undermine Sanders. 

She told Florida's Sun Sentinel newspaper she would not speak as planned at the opening of the event. On Monday morning, Wasserman Schultz struggled to be heard above boos as she spoke to the delegation from her home state. Some protesters held up signs that read "Bernie" and "E-MAILS" and shouted: "Shame" as she spoke.

The cache of leaked emails disclosed that DNC officials explored ways to undercut Sanders' insurgent presidential campaign, including raising questions about whether Sanders, who is Jewish, was an atheist. Sanders supporters were already dismayed last week when Clinton passed over liberal favorites like U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts to select the more moderate Kaine as her running mate.

* * *

But it wasn't just the lack of unity and common voice that marked the start of the DNC. According to The Hill, the apparent lack of organization as well as a hostile weather conditions, all conspired - pun intended - to make the initial impression of the Democratic Convention even worse than that of the Republican one. 

Attendees reported walking long distances — in some cases, nearly a mile — in 98-degree temperatures to get to the arena from the car drop-off area. Complaints of overheating and poor coordination by the DNC are escalating just as the party looks to contain the fallout from the resignation of its chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
 
Wasserman Schultz, who was expected to open the convention’s first night, is no longer expected to speak at all. 

Just hours before the opening gavel, only two eateries inside the convention center were serving food and drinks around lunchtime. Water bottles were priced at $4.50. Thousands will arrive by Monday evening for keynote speeches by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and first lady Michelle Obama. Outside, temperatures reached 98 degrees Fahrenheit by 3 p.m., with a heat index of 109 degrees. 

The National Weather Service had previously warned of “multiple days of excessive heat” during the Democratic National Convention. Officials said the heat would “greatly affect those who are attending outdoor activities,” such as the thousands of people joining protests downtown.

Morgan Finkelstein, a spokeswoman for the DNC's media team, said in a text Monday afternoon that its event contractor was "working on making it colder in the tents."   Just outside the convention center by the media tents, a handful of food trucks sizzled on the pavement, with no other food spots nearby. Inside the tents, water has only been made available by media outlets for their own staff.  

The media was furious: peeved reporters and editors have taken to Twitter to complain about the event’s disorganization, with some pining for their experience at last week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Megan Liberman, editor-in-chief of Yahoo News, described the day as “chaos”  (and an employee for Yahoo should know). “To be totally objective and nonpartisan: the logistics at DNC are appalling. Squalid hotels, sweltering workspace, no directions. Chaos,” Liberman tweeted.

“Walking thru hot media tents, or walking the mile from Uber drop off to hot media tents, one hears longing for CLE,” Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker tweeted.

Finkelstein said the DNC was providing air conditioning in the media tents “the best that we can.” In the arena, she said they tried to “beef up AC as much as we could” — including adding two 300-pound chillers stationed near the delegates. 

Finkelstein said reporters were allowed to buy or bring their own water into the convention hall or the media tents. When asked if the DNC planned to make any available in the hotter-than-expected tents, she said: “I don’t actually know if we’re allowed to provide that.”

The DNC’s media facilities had already drawn complaints before temperatures began to soar Monday. With an approaching thunderstorm late Sunday, convention officials warned reporters to be prepared to evacuate the media tents in case of lightning. “Tents in the vicinity of the area are not designed to fully protect inhabitants in the event of a direct lightning strike,” according to an email by the DNC’s Department of Media Logistics.

* * * 

Perhaps it is poetic justice that after all the mocking of the Republican Convention, the Democratic one has launched on such chaotic, turbulent waves. That said, we are hopeful that things will normalize, and eagerly look forward to Bernie's speech later tonight when the Vermont socialist will do all in his power to bring the two warring group of democrats together. If what has transpired so far is any indication, he may have an uphill battle.