Sanders Seeks to Soothe Supporters, Unite Democrats in Prime Time Address

Bernie-20160726042433263

This originally appeared in PRWeek on July 26, 2016. 

The theme for the opening night of the 2016 Democratic Convention was United Together, and the headliner for the evening was Vermont senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. His speech was the anchor of the night, and his message was central to the Democrats’ ability to have a successful event, which includes striking a stark contrast against the Republicans and Donald Trump.

By all accounts, after a tumultuous day kicked off with the ouster of party chair Debbie Wasserman-Schulz, the night ended as a roaring success, culminating with the full-throated Sanders endorsement of his one-time rival, Secretary Hillary Clinton.

However, once emails stolen from the Democratic Committee revealed that Wasserman-Schulz actually opposed Sanders attempt to capture the nomination, this gave his supporters more reason to rail against the political establishment.  With those headwinds in play, Senator Sanders remarks actually began earlier in the day when he urged his supporters to stand down and not openly demonstrate. He delivered an admonition through text telling them that outbursts were not helpful and that we needed to begin uniting. However, once a forest is set ablaze it’s difficult to put out the fire.

This is why, with the mood inside and outside the convention hall on edge, Sanders’ deftness in delivering his address was necessary to ensure that his credibility withstood the endorsement and secured his legacy on the impact of the presidential selection process and the Democrats’ public policy agenda moving ahead.

First, Sanders took his time rolling out the endorsement. He allowed the drama to build and used the event of Senator Ted Cruz’s no-endorsement at the Republican Convention a week prior to build suspense and make his audience lean in a bit. During that time, he was sure to thank his supporters, acknowledge the political revolution that they ignited, and re-inforce that his was a purely grassroots effort funded by millions of individual donors at an average amount of $27 – a signature line from his campaign speech.

Sanders also talked about the public policy victories he secured on behalf of his supporters and the movement and the collaboration with the Clinton team in developing “the most progressive party platform in history.” He called out specifics such as support for the ongoing fight for universal health care through the public option, a compromise on tuition-free college offered to families earning less than $125,000 annually, and a $15 minimum wage. Sanders needed to demonstrate that, despite the disappointment in his not capturing the nomination, there were still some not-so-small victories of which his supporters could be proud.

After getting the crowd to lean in, about 20 minutes into his remarks, he finally told the crowd that we needed to get behind Hillary Clinton to ensure she would become the next president of the United States to which there were certainly more cheers than boos from the crowd. Some may have actually exhaled since before that point, he had not mentioned Clinton once.

Sanders then offered a point-by-point comparison and contrast between Clinton and Trump on key issues including the aforementioned minimum wage, climate change, and the selection of members of the U.S. Supreme Court.

He also noted that the tone and disposition of the candidates was important as well. Sanders contrasted Trump’s words and tone in pitting different groups of Americans against one another compared to Clinton’s record of working on behalf of Americans and bringing people together.

If the Clinton team could change anything about Sanders comments, they probably would have posted the endorsement earlier in the speech, especially considering the slow and deliberate clip at which Sanders addresses a crowd. However, in the end they had to be thrilled with how Sanders’ speech turned out and helped in managing the message for the night, the week and the campaign moving forward.

Despite a hard fought primary campaign, Bernie Sanders did his part to bring Democrats together – the number one goal of any political convention.  The rest is now up to Hillary Clinton.

Sanders Seeks to Soothe Supporters, Unite Democrats in Prime Time Address

Bernie-20160726042433263

This originally appeared in PRWeek on July 26, 2016.
The theme for the opening night of the 2016 Democratic Convention was United Together, and the headliner for the evening was Vermont senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. His speech was the anchor of the night, and his message was central to the Democrats’ ability to have a successful event, which includes striking a stark contrast against the Republicans and Donald Trump.
By all accounts, after a tumultuous day kicked off with the ouster of party chair Debbie Wasserman-Schulz, the night ended as a roaring success, culminating with the full-throated Sanders endorsement of his one-time rival, Secretary Hillary Clinton.
However, once emails stolen from the Democratic Committee revealed that Wasserman-Schulz actually opposed Sanders attempt …

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