Politics

Democrats to Promote Positive Vision Amid Divisions

Democrats will convene for their convention in Philadelphia

Independence Hall in Philadelphia. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

PHILADELPHIA — Democrats say they will present a positive vision for the country at their national convention in the City of Brotherly Love, even as they work to bridge internal divisions before Hillary Clinton leaves town as the party's presidential nominee.  

The goal is to solidify a unified front before the big events on the final two days of the convention when Tim Kaine accepts the lts  a public have ir goal will be to unite before the the  

Wednesday when Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine accepts the vice presidential nomination and Hillary Clinton  

Hillary Clinton accepts the nomination for the presidency Thursday, and  

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., does the same for the No. 2 spot on the ticket the night before.  

That seemed possible after Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., endorsed Clinton and effectively ended his primary campaign. But an email leak on the eve of the convention has raised questions about whether different factions of the party will be able to unify.

[ Special Coverage: 2016 Democratic National Convention ]

A leak of roughly 20,000 Democratic National Committee emails stoked Democratic divisions by revealing that some staffers plotted against Sanders.  

Sanders reiterated his call for DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schutlz, D-Fla., to step down in the wake of the scandal. But he declined to say on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that she should do so immediately, instead noting that it appeared she would not be speaking at the convention following the email leak.  

Sanders: Wasserman Schultz Should Resign  ]  

Instead, Sanders said, the focus should be on the Democrats’ common enemy: GOP nominee Donald Trump.  

“I think right now what we have got to focus on as Democrats is defeating perhaps the worst Republican candidate that I have seen in my lifetime,” Sanders said. “Donald Trump would be a disaster for this country. We’ve got to elect Secretary Clinton.”  

But some Sanders supporters are taking matters into their own hands. On Sunday, a group of Sanders delegates said they are weighing a challenge to Kaine’s vice presidential nomination on the convention floor, arguing that he is not progressive enough.  

Sanders supporters also successfully fought for the party to establish a commission to reduce the role superdelegates – party leaders who are not elected delegates but have a vote at the convention -- in the future.  

Sanders Delegates Weigh Kaine Challenge Sanders is expected to meet with his delegates ahead of his convention speech on Monday, according to the Associated Press.  

While they work to come together, Democrats will also aim to present their vision for the country and make the case for a Clinton presidency.  

"What you see and hear in Philadelphia is a very positive and forward looking message. You know, we believe that when you give people a hand up, the people of this country compete and win," Katie McGinty, the local Democratic nominee for Senate told reporters last week.  

If all goes according to plan, the contrast with the previous week in Cleveland will be unmistakable. There in line with Trump, Republican convention speakers focused on a need to revive a declining country, to reduce crime, to control immigration and to tighten up trade policy.  

Philadelphia: A Rough-And-Tumble Town Puts on Its Best Face for the Democratic National Convention "Instead of selling hatred, fear and division, it's going to be an agenda that lives up to our true and noble and honorable traditions as a country," McGinty said of the Democratic plan.  

On the final day of the Republican convention, other Democratic lawmakers showed up in Ohio and decried what they viewed as overtly angry, hate-filled, and untruthful rhetoric from Republicans.  

"Bluster, fear, chaos and anger are not the qualities America wants or needs in a president," said Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.  

"When you see our convention next week, you’re going to see the spirit," Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey said. “You’re going to see kindness. You’re going to see hope and compassion.”  

Booker is one of several lawmakers and Clinton campaign surrogates speaking at the convention The former Newark mayor, who was on the vice presidential shortlist before the announcement that Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine would get the nod, is known for passionate speeches.  

Clinton Picks Virginia's Tim Kaine for VP Booker told reporters he will be drawing from convention addresses in the past that have inspired him.  

"I'm pretty confident about the people that I know are going to be speaking, Booker said. "And I can virtually guarantee you that you’re going to hear a marked difference. No one will be leading chants so filled with hate."  

One look at the convention themes and list of scheduled speakers for the Democrats demonstrates the contrast. Three out of the four Democratic convention days center on a theme that uses the word “together.” The final night will center on Clinton’s campaign theme, “Stronger Together.”  

Monday night features Dreamer activist Astrid Silva, who came to the United States from Mexico as a child without documentation.  

Meet the Least Familiar Headliner at the Democratic Convention According to the convention organizing committee, additional speakers include Khizr Khan, whose son, a Muslim American, was killed in combat in 2004 while serving in Iraq.  

Also expected is Erica Smegielski, the daughter of the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School who was gunned down while attempting to protect students during the December 2012 mass shooting in Connecticut.  

Aside from the optimistic message about America, there's sure to be plenty of talk about Trump. Fear of a Trump presidency has been one of the motivators bringing Sanders’ supporters into the fold.  

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., may be a key to that unity effort. The favorite of the liberal Democratic base who has derided Trump as a "money grubber" and questioned the Republican businessman's wealth.  

"We cannot be a country ruled by hatred and bigotry," Warren said Saturday in a speech to the National Council of La Raza in Orlando. "The last we need is a president who fans the flames of hatred and division."  

The convention in Philadelphia should also allow Democrats to shift from defense to offense. The DNC spent much of the Republican convention counteracting GOP claims about Clinton and Republican proposals, blasting out press releases during the headliners' speeches, and holding daily press conference in downtown Cleveland.  

But now it's time for Democrats to outline their own vision.  

Contact Lesniewski at NielsLesniewski@cqrollcall.com and follow him on Twitter @nielslesniewski. Contact Bowman at bridgetbowman@rollcall.com and follow her on Twitter at @bridgetbhc.

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