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California Clinton delegate: ‘I’m confident Sanders supporters will come around’

Jul 27, 2016

Democratic National Convention: Day Two

Delegates hold up signs and cheer on the second day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 26, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.; Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images

On a night filled with celebratory emotion, the unity that many Clinton supporters hoped would happen was absent as Sanders supporters left the convention hall to protest the nomination Tuesday night.

The walkout was a testament to the disapproval of the Democratic National Committee’s WikiLeaks email scandal early this week.

AirTalk spoke with several California delegates about the walkout, next steps for Bernie supporters, and what it was like to witness history being made in Philadelphia.

Alex Calleros is filmmaker and Sanders delegate representing California’s 28th district, which includes Burbank and Glendale. He is still  deciding to whom to vote for in November, but he said he refused to vote based on fear of any particular candidate.  

“A lot of the Bernie delegation really came here to support the party platform,” Calleros said. “I had no illusions coming into this convention that Bernie was going to somehow become the nominee.”

Writer, actor and language arts tutor Lizzie Prestel is a Hillary Clinton delegate in Philadelphia, representing California’s 28th district. 

She said she was inspired by the history-making roll call vote last night, and she was confident that Sanders backers like Medrano and Calleros would eventually support Hillary Clinton.

“These aren’t people that are maybe Trump supporters,” she said. “Most of them I think understand how dangerous it would be to elect someone who’s said what he has said about women [and] about Mexican-Americans. So I’m pretty confident that most Sanders supporters will come around, but some won’t.”

Guests:

Louis Desipio, Director, Center for the Study of Democracy, UC-Irvine

Jack Pitney, Crocker Professor of Politics at Claremont McKenna College

Lizzie Prestel, writer, actor and Language arts tutor; she is a Hillary Clinton delegate representing California’s 28th district which includes Burbank and Glendale

Martha Medrano, Bernie Sanders delegate representing the 29th District, which includes Van Nuys, San Fernando, parts of Sun Valley and North Hollywood

Alex Calleros, filmmaker and Bernie Sanders delegate representing California’s 28th district which includes Burbank and Glendale.

Interview Highlights 

What message were you trying to send by walking out of the convention after the roll call vote?

 

Medrano: It was not only some delegates as the picture is being painted, it was actually a lot of delegates. Not only from California, but from a lot of states. It really was to the point of sending the message that we are not okay with this. We are not going to just move past this [and] look the other way and unite because it’s what the party wants us to do. We’re definitely not happy, and we’re going to do everything we can to raise awareness of our issues and bring awareness to the change that we’re trying to bring. 

Are you taking part in convention activities today and tomorrow, or do you feel like you’ve done your job voting for Bernie Sanders and you’re done with it? 

Medrano: My responsibility is not only to Bernie, but it’s also to our district and the constituents that sent us here. We represent about 44,000 [people], and because of that it’s our job to make sure that we stay and push the platform and the issues that we’re not going to budge on. So, we’re definitely going to be there today and tomorrow and raise awareness around these issues.

Is there more the DNC can say or do that would help make you feel comfortable in the future that this won’t happen?

Calleros: He’s already endorsed Clinton. I think we knew coming into this that we’re here to say to the Democratic Party that they have not yet convinced us that we can really trust them. I think my generation — I’m twenty-nine — [and people younger than me] really feel that in the age of the Internet, the veil has been pulled back. We see [that] this party which we were raised to believed was the party of the people, seems to be really in bed with lobbyists, with corporations, [and] with this kind of oligarchical system. We have things like the WikiLeaks revelations that just happened last weekend that seem to confirm these suspicions that we have — that there are people in power pulling the strings, and that we’re not really running the show here.

Myself and many people we know really put our lives on hold and worked day in and day out to elect Bernie [and the perceived bias in the WikiLeaks email leaks] feel like a slap in the face. We brought in so many new voters, we registered millions of people across the country to be in the Democratic party, and then we feel like all that work was being worked against by the party leadership. 

Is there more the DNC can say or do that would help make you feel comfortable in the future that this won’t happen? 

Calleros: I think if they could install someone into that leadership chair — somebody like Tulsi Gabbard — somebody from the Bernie side of the party… to work with the more “establishment” Democrats and just show some good faith that “we want to incorporate your half of the party, we want to incorporate your ideas,” that would be a huge leap forward. 

I think if that doesn’t happen and it’s kind of the same crowd that we seen, it’s going to be really hard to trust them.

Share with us what it was like for you in the hall last night. 

Prestel: The highlight was the roll call vote. Hearing each state give these adorable descriptions of their virtues — hearing Delaware mention Joe Biden as though they invented Joe Biden and everyone cheers. But more importantly, hearing each state mention the diversity in their delegations or what their states have done for women — our state had the first woman this, our state had the first woman that — was very inspiring. It was really emotional. I just feel really lucky to have that chance to celebrate what we were really doing in nominating the first woman to be president of the United States.

What kinds of conversations have you had with delegates who are still resistant to Clinton? 

Prestel: A lot of different types of conversations. I feel like the Bernie Sanders delegates aren’t all alike. But most of them are upset and disappointed. I understand that. and I sympathize. I think a lot of them see this as a pretty good opportunity to have their voices heard. I think that was one of the things that was so great about the roll call vote. More than the boos of the last couple days, which I don’t really think represent every Bernie Sanders delegate, hearing those numbers tally up and seeing what Bernie Sanders really did in this past year is impressive, and it’s important. I think his supporters are just a little worried that some of the things he values are going to be forgotten, and I respect that. 

Are you confident that you’re going to be able to pull over most of the Sanders supporters into Hillary Clinton’s camp? 

Prestel: These aren’t people that are maybe Trump supporters. Most of them I think understand how dangerous it would be to elect someone who’s said what he has said about women [and] about Mexican-Americans. So I’m pretty confident that most Sanders supporters will come around, but some won’t.

Governor Jerry Brown, Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine, and President Barack Obama will all speak tonight at the convention.

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