PHILADELPHIA — Democratic discontent with Hillary Clinton was on full display at the California delegation breakfast Monday morning ahead of the first night of the Democratic National Convention.
Members of the delegation repeatedly disrupted the lineup of speakers, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, with protestations against Clinton and cheers for her erstwhile primary rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Sanders won 46 percent of the California’s Democratic primary vote in June, compared to Hillary Clinton’s 53 percent.
But whenever a speaker talked about uniting to elect Clinton in November, the crowd balked. They booed Rep. Michael M. Honda. And chanted, “Bernie, Bernie, Bernie!” during Rep. Barbara Lee’s address.
Pelosi tried to unify the room by emphasizing the commonalities in the room rather than the divisions. “The differences that we have are not so great compared to the chasm between us and Republicans,” she said.
But the crowd wasn’t having it. When a “Bernie” sign was thrust in Pelosi’s face on stage, she remained calm, saying, “I don’t consider it a discourtesy even if it is intended as one.”
The minority leader said she’d always opposed superdelegates and praised Sanders for staying in the race through the California primary in June because he helped boost turnout that resulted in more down-ballot Democrats finishing in the state’s top-two primary system.
With one final call for unity, and rallying calls to take back the House and the Senate, Pelosi walked off stage to more “Bernie” chants.
Pelosi later downplayed the divisions and dismissed concerns that the booing of the presumptive nominee would hurt the party.
“Well, you know, it’s the Democratic Party,” she told reporters after the breakfast. “We’ve never been a monolith, and we’ve always tried to reach consensus. But unanimity has never — it’s just an impossibility for any party.”
With two of her grandchildren at her side, Pelosi said she’d met with plenty of Sanders supporters who were pleased that their demands had been accommodated in the platform.
Others, she implied, don’t realize how well they had it.
“Some people are new and just are not familiar with how things work,” she said. “That is to say, you make your case, you make your vote, you make a difference, you demand a compromise, and you pull — whether it’s policy or rules — closer to you, and that is success.”