PHILADELPHIA—Bernie Sanders was greeted at the Democratic National Convention with nearly three straight minutes of applause, a first on a day that was otherwise defined by a lot of booing.
The speech was likely scripted long before the disharmony on the convention floor started Monday afternoon, but it still managed to address the contingent of Sanders supporters who want to keep the campaign going even without the support of the candidate himself.
“Let me be as clear as I can be. This election is not about, and has never been about, Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump, or Bernie Sanders or any of the other candidates who sought the presidency,” he said. “This election is about—and must be about—the needs of the American people and the kind of future we create for our children and grandchildren."
The response in the arena was charged, with some delegates in tears, others booing. But Sanders got on with the business of speaking, and at the center of his speech were the issues that defined his candidacy and remade the Democratic platform: a living wage, universal health care, overturning Citizens United.
"By these measures, any objective observer will conclude that—based on her ideas and her leadership—Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States," he continued. "The choice is not even close."
This, according to 90% of Sanders supporters, is a foregone conclusion. But Day 1 of the Democratic National Convention, even with primetime speakers like Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Warren, still felt defined in some ways by the other 10%.
As Sanders wound down his speech, a man in the row ahead of me, in a beard and a bandana, remained standing: "We’re still here, Bernie," he shouted. “You’re the only one."