Democrats thrown into tur­moil on eve of con­ven­tion

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

PHILADEL­PHIA — Deb­bie Wasser­man Schultz is re­sign­ing un­der pres­sure as Demo­cratic Party chair, a stun­ning lead­er­ship shake-up as party of­fi­cials gather in Philadel­phia to nom­i­nate Hil­lary Clin­ton.

Wasser­man Schultz’s an­nounce­ment on Sun­day fol­lows a firestorm over hacked emails sug­gest­ing the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee favoured Clin­ton dur­ing the pri­mary, de­spite pledg­ing neu­tral­ity. The leaked emails prompted pri­mary run­ner-up Bernie San­ders to call for Wasser­man Schultz’s im­me­di­ate res­ig­na­tion.

In a state­ment, Wasser­man Schultz said she will step down at the end of the four-day con­ven­tion. She said she plans to for­mally open and close the con­ven­tion, as well as ad­dress del­e­gates. Her state­ment does not ad­dress the email controversy. Wasser­man Schultz’s swift ouster un­der­scores party lead­ers’ de­sire to avoid con­ven­tion con­fronta­tions with San­ders’ loyal sup­port­ers. The chair has been a light­ning rod for crit­i­cism through­out the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, with San­ders re­peat­edly ac­cus­ing the DNC of back­ing Clin­ton.

San­ders said the 19,000 emails pub­lished by the web­site Wik­ileaks ap­peared to con­firm his sus­pi­cions.

In one leaked email, a DNC of­fi­cial won­dered whether San­ders’ re­li­gious be­liefs could be used against him, ques­tion­ing whether the can­di­date may be an athe­ist.

San­ders pressed for Wasser­man Schultz to quit as chair­woman im­me­di­ately. He also sug­gested that Clin­ton’s choice of run­ning mate, Vir­ginia Se­na­tor Tim Kaine, was a disappointment and that he would have pre­ferred Mas­sachusetts Se­na­tor El­iz­a­beth War­ren, a favourite of lib­er­als.

“His po­lit­i­cal views are not my po­lit­i­cal views. He is more con­ser­va­tive than I am. Would I have pre­ferred to see some­body like an El­iz­a­beth War­ren se­lected by Sec­re­tary Clin­ton? Yes, I would have,” San­ders told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The Clin­ton team worked to por­tray their party’s con­ven­tion in a dif­fer­ent light from the just con­cluded Re­pub­li­can gath­er­ing in Cleve­land, where Don­ald Trump ac­cepted the GOP nomination but party di­vi­sions flared when his chief ri­val, Texas Se­na­tor Ted Cruz, re­fused to en­dorse the bil­lion­aire busi­ness­man.

Trump cast him­self as the law-and-or­der can­di­date in a na­tion suf­fer­ing un­der crime and hob­bled by im­mi­gra­tion, as the GOP con­ven­tion stuck to a gloom-and-doom theme. Democrats said they wanted to con­vey a mes­sage of op­ti­mism and im­prov­ing the lives of all Amer­i­cans.

But party dis­unity also seems to be a fac­tor in Philadel­phia, given San­ders’ de­mands for a new leader and gen­eral un­hap­pi­ness among his many sup­port­ers about how the nomination process un­folded.

Nor­man Solomon, a del­e­gate who sup­ports Bernie San­ders, says there is talk among San­ders’ del­e­gates of walk­ing out dur­ing Kaine’s ac­cep­tance speech or turn­ing their backs as a show of protest.

Solomon said he be­lieves a “vast ma­jor­ity” of San­ders del­e­gates sup­port th­ese kinds of protests to ex­press their dis­may. San­ders’ sup­port­ers say they are con­cerned that Kaine is not pro­gres­sive enough.

Dan O’Neal, 68, is a re­tired school teacher and del­e­gate from Ari­zona, said Wasser­man Schultz has to be cen­sured.

“We knew they were stack­ing the deck against Bernie from the get-go, but this type of stuff com­ing out is out­ra­geous,” he said. “It proves our point that they’ve tried to marginalise him and make it as dif­fi­cult as pos­si­ble.”

Trump’s cam­paign chair, Paul Manafort, agreed, say­ing San­ders’ sup­port­ers “have a lot to com­plain about.”

“The emails have proven the sys­tem was rigged from the start,” Manafort told “Fox News Sun­day.”

Clin­ton’s cam­paign man­ager, Robby Mook, tried to shift blame away from DNC of­fi­cials to “Rus­sian state ac­tors” who, he said, may have hacked into DNC com­put­ers “for the pur­pose of help­ing Don­ald Trump,” the Re­pub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee. How the emails were stolen hasn’t been con­firmed. “It was con­cern­ing last week that Don­ald Trump changed the Re­pub­li­can plat­form to be­come what some ex­perts would re­gard as pro-Rus­sian,” Mook said.

Clin­ton is within just days of her long-held am­bi­tion to be­come the party’s of­fi­cial pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee.

Af­ter the DNC re­leased a slightly trimmed list of su­perdel­e­gates — those are the party of­fi­cials who can back any can­di­date — it now takes 2,382 del­e­gates to for­mally clinch the nomination. Clin­ton has 2,814 when in­clud­ing su­perdel­e­gates, ac­cord­ing to an As­so­ci­ated Press count. San­ders has 1,893.

San­ders has en­dorsed Clin­ton, but his del­e­gates are push­ing for a state-by-state tally. The state-by-state roll call is sched­uled for to­day.

Also Sun­day, Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton, were back at their long time church in Rich­mond, Vir­ginia, a day af­ter he made his cam­paign de­but with Clin­ton. — AFP

Bernie San­ders and Hil­lary Clin­ton

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