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July 26 2016 2:02 PM

These Seven Mothers Who Lost Children to Police and Gun Violence Will Stand Up for Hillary on Tuesday Night

Barring any surprise changes to the schedule, the centerpiece of Tuesday’s programming at the Democratic National Convention will be the appearance of seven black women who have lost children to gun violence and/or police brutality. Among them will be the mother of Trayvon Martin, whose death at the hands of a neighborhood watchman in Florida gave rise to the slogan “Black Lives Matter” in 2012, and the mother of Michael Brown, whose fatal shooting by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, two years ago catalyzed that slogan into a full-fledged movement.

The segment has its origins in a three-hour dinner held in Chicago last November, during which Hillary Clinton met with Sybrina Fulton and Lezley McSpadden (the mothers of Martin and Brown, respectively), as well as eight other women whose sons and daughters have been killed as a result of gun violence or interactions with law enforcement. According to the New York Times, Clinton asked each attendee at the dinner to tell her own story before saying to the group, “You have a lot of power individually. But collectively, you need to come together. The country needs to hear from you.”

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Almost all the women who are appearing on the convention stage Tuesday have previously endorsed Clinton, and they’ve campaigned with her as part of an effort to build support for her candidacy among black voters. In February, at a moment when Clinton was facing a wave of criticism from representatives of Black Lives Matter over her support for the 1994 crime bill, five of the mothers appeared in a campaign video talking about how they’ve turned tragedy into motivation for political activism, and why they believe Clinton is the right person to lead on police reform and gun violence prevention.

John J. McNesby, the president of the police union in Philadelphia, has condemned the Clinton campaign for Tuesday’s speaker schedule, writing in an open letter that he and his fellow union members were “shocked and saddened,” and that Clinton should be “ashamed of [herself] if that is possible.”

Below, a brief guide to the women whose planned appearance at the Democratic convention has so insulted McNesby and his union:

Gwen Carr

Mother of Eric Garner, who died on Staten Island in 2014 after a police officer put him in a chokehold. Garner, whose death was captured on a cellphone video, was selling loose cigarettes when police confronted him. His dying words—“I can’t breathe,” uttered 11 times while he lay facedown on the sidewalk—became iconic in the Black Lives Matter movement. The officer who choked him was not indicted. Carr endorsed Clinton in January, about a month before Garner’s daughter Erica appeared in a widely circulated campaign video for Bernie Sanders.

Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton

Mother of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old girl who was shot in 2013 while hanging out at a park in Chicago after gang members mistook her friends for affiliates of a rival crew. Pendleton was one of 415 people murdered in Chicago that year. Her death stirred extra attention, however, because just a week earlier she had performed on stage at President Obama’s second inauguration.

Sybrina Fulton

Mother of Trayvon Martin, who was killed by George Zimmerman while walking unarmed through a gated community in Florida. Zimmerman, who was a volunteer neighborhood watchman, called the police when he became suspicious of Martin, then engaged the teenager in a confrontation. Zimmerman successfully defended himself against murder charges by citing Florida’s stand-your-ground laws. His acquittal was greeted with disbelief around the country and spawned the phrase “Black Lives Matter.” Sybrina Fulton endorsed Clinton in January with an op-ed on CNN.com in which she praised her commitment to gun violence prevention as well as “better training for officers,” “eliminating racial profiling,” and “investing in body cameras for every police department.”

Maria Hamilton

Mother of Dontre Hamilton, who was shot 14 times by a police officer in Milwaukee in April 2014. The police officer, who was not charged, approached Hamilton while he was sleeping on a bench and engaged him in a confrontation. When Hamilton grabbed the officer’s baton from him and hit him with it, the officer perceived him to have "super human strength" and fired. Maria Hamilton founded Mothers for Justice United, and organized a Mother’s Day march against police violence last year in Washington, D.C. In February, she attended the Sanders-Clinton debate in Milwaukee as Clinton’s guest.

Lucia McBath

Mother of Jordan Davis, who was 17 when he was fatally shot in 2012 for playing loud music at a gas station in Florida. Davis’ killer, Michael Dunn, fired 10 rounds into the car Davis was riding in with his friends and was sentenced to life without parole after being convicted of murder. McBath endorsed Clinton with an op-ed published by BET that focused on the candidate’s support for gun control.

Lezley McSpadden

Mother of Michael Brown, who was killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014, after a confrontation in the street. Brown’s death, and the eventual nonindictment of Wilson, was greeted with outrage across the country, and the military-style approach that the Ferguson police department embraced when dealing with street protesters further enflamed relations between law enforcement and minorities. McSpadden endorsed Clinton in March, the day of the Missouri primary, saying in a statement, “I want a leader who is willing to take the steps to reform a justice system that dehumanized my son.”

Geneva Reed-Veal

Mother of Sandra Bland, who committed suicide in a jail cell after being pulled over on a minor traffic violation in Waller County, Texas, in July 2015. Dashboard camera footage showed Bland having an argument with the officer who pulled her over before the officer threatened her with a stun gun and arrested her. Bland died after spending three days in jail under a $5,000 bond. Bland’s mother began campaigning with Hillary Clinton in February.

July 26 2016 1:11 PM

Should Bernie Be the One to Nominate Hillary on Tuesday Night?

If at first you don’t succeed …

There’s nothing to suggest this is a done deal yet. (See update below.) The Clinton camp may decide that it doesn’t want to risk a backlash from the already angry Bernie-or-bust crowd, who might not react all that calmly to having their hearts broken a second time in less than 24 hours by the man they came to cheer in Philadelphia. Alternatively, Sanders could decide that he’s not willing to put a damper on what should be a special—albeit bittersweet—moment for himself and his movement after the delegates he won during the primary are tallied on the convention stage.

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Still, while that’s a big gamble (for Clinton) and sacrifice (for Sanders), it stands to reason that they really are putting serious thought into it.

The opening day of the convention was dominated by displays of intra-party discord, and while things settled down somewhat as evening turned to night, Democrats are desperate to avoid a repeat performance on Day 2. Tuesday’s lineup includes the mothers of Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, and Eric Garner, along with a keynote from Bill Clinton. If the Bern-iacs get themselves too riled up casting their votes during the evening roll call, it’s easy to imagine that energy spilling over into prime time. Shouting down grieving mothers, it should go without saying, would make for a particularly awkward convention moment. And booing the former president could put him on the defensive (never the best look for Bill), forcing him off script and ruining what has the chance to be one of the more effective speeches of the week.

Bernie, meanwhile, has already proved he’s willing to face down the boo birds if he thinks it will help defeat Donald Trump. By almost any measure, he and those working with him—as opposed to simply in his name—did just about everything they could on Day 1 to quiet the vocal protests in the convention hall. Even before the senator stepped on stage late last night to endorse Clinton, he and his team had been waving the party-unity flag all day. Sanders made the case to his supporters before the festivities got underway, and later sent out a text message to his delegate whips urging them to be respectful during the evening proceedings. His former national spokesman, meanwhile, took to Twitter to downplay the impact the DNC played in the outcome of this year’s primary. And all the while, a number of his most-well-known surrogates—from former NAACP president Ben Jealous to Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley to comedian Sarah Silverman—stood on the convention stage and tried to let the Sanders delegates down easy. (Silverman, though, eventually opted for some tougher love.)

All of that wasn’t enough to completely silence the anti-Clinton crowd, but it no doubt made things significantly better than they would have been if Sanders had remained silent. Having Bernie formally place his rival’s name into nomination Tuesday night after all the votes are counted won’t be some panacea for the party, but it would make for a powerful moment. The question Democrats will have to decide between now and then, though, is whether they think the vocal minority of anti-Clinton delegates in the convention hall will be willing to let them have it.

Update, 1:45 p.m.: NBC News is reporting that the “plan as it stand right now” is that Sanders won’t be the one to nominate Clinton after all. Instead, his home state delegation of Vermont will ask to record their votes last during the evening roll call, at which point they will request that Clinton be named the Democratic nominee by unanimous proclamation. That plan comes with its own risk, though, given that many Sanders delegates are unlikely to be happy with the idea that their votes will effectively be wiped from the convention record if the proclamation motion succeeds. Stay tuned.

Update, 2:57 p.m.: Sounds like Democrats decided to play things safe—though this doesn't automatically rule out either Sanders or the Vermont delegation requesting that Clinton be named the Democratic nominee by unanimous proclamation at the end of the roll call:

July 26 2016 12:14 PM

Cory Booker Responds to Cryptic Trump Tweet by Promising to Love Him

After just one day, Donald Trump has made a lot of very Donald Trumpian tweets about the Democratic National Convention. For example:

And this:

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But his strangest tweet of the night on Monday was probably this cryptic message about Sen. Cory Booker:

Booker, who gave one of the night’s featured addresses, had a lengthy passage in his speech in which he described some of Trump’s racist statements against Hispanics, misogynistic statements, and his Islamophobic call to ban Muslims from entering the country. I’m going to guess, though, that this is the moment that got under Trump’s skin the most:

Trump says he would run our country like he has run his businesses. Well, I’m from Jersey, and we have seen the way he leads. In Atlantic City, he got rich while his companies declared multiple bankruptcies. Yet without remorse, even as people got hurt by his failures, he bragged, “The money I took out of there was incredible.” Yes, he took out lots of cash but he stiffed contractors—many of them small businesses, refusing to pay them for the work they’d done. America has seen enough of a handful of people growing rich at the cost of our nation descending into economic crisis.

Booker responded to Trump’s tweet on Tuesday in an interview with CNN, promising to “keep loving on him,” despite Trump’s “mean-spirited hate.” Booker would not speculate as to what Trump was talking about. But here’s what he told the network:

Let me tell you right now: I love Donald Trump. I don't want to answer his hate with hate. I’m going to answer it with love. I’m not going to answer his darkness with darkness. I love him. I know his kids, I know his family. They're good, the children especially, good people.

So he loves Trump. But not Trump’s hate. Also Trump shouldn’t be president:

I love you, Donald. I pray for you. I hope that you find some kindness in your heart, that you’re not going to be somebody that spews out insults to your political opposition, that you’re going to start finding some ways to love. I’m going to elevate him. I love you, I just don't want you to be my president. I don't want to you have the White House to be spewing that kind of mean-spirited hate that doesn’t even belong on a playground sandbox.

So he’s going to elevate Trump, but not join him in the playground sandbox. Also, he will pray for Trump and continue to love him, but also tell the truth about his meanness:

The reality is, I’m sorry, I’m just going to keep loving on him. I’m going to tell the truth about him, but I’m going to keep loving on him, praying for the best for him and his family. That kind of vitriol, that kind of meanness, has no place in the presidency. Bring it on, Donald. Show your truth. I’m going to show mine. Love you, brother.

Trump has not yet given any clues as to what he was talking about in that tweet or whether or not he loves Booker back.

July 26 2016 11:28 AM

There’s One Person Donald Trump Did Not Try to Mess With Last Night: Michelle Obama

On Monday night, Donald Trump posted disparaging tweets about Democratic National Convention speakers Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Cory Booker. But there was one high-profile keynoter he did not attack: Michelle Obama, whose address was the consensus highlight of the evening.

Is Donald Trump scared of Michelle Obama? A search of his Twitter account indicates only nine of his 32,000 tweets have referred to her despite her close connection to a man Trump believes to be a Muslim saboteur. Even those tweets are fairly low-energy by Trump standards. Here's a typical example:

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Terrible! Another:

(Reminder: Donald Trump claims his own hair is natural even though there used to be a sketchy hair-weave company located on the same floor as his personal office.)

(The "your excellency" thing was from a scene on the Nickelodeon show iCarly. Devastating.)

One reason Trump might have been quiet on Monday, obviously, is that his campaign just had to admit that Melania Trump copied sections of her own convention speech from Michelle's 2008 convention speech in Denver. In the course of making that admission, as it happens, Trump speechwriter Meredith McIver wrote that Melania has "always liked" Michelle. On that front, here's one more tweet Donald Trump has sent:

Wow, sounds like someone is a little jealous! Think about it: Donald Trump spends 90–100 percent of his waking hours clenching his fists and fuming about Barack Obama while smoke comes out his ears like a guy in a cartoon. Barack, meanwhile, generally ignores Trump and answers to only one person: Michelle, a figure who Trump's own wife openly admires (and copies from) and who is vastly more popular than he is. Everywhere Donald Trump turns, Michelle Obama is getting the better of him! He just can't figure out how to get an edge on her, and it induces a state in which he very rarely finds himself: the state of having nothing to say.

July 26 2016 10:45 AM

Watch an MSNBC Host Confront Bernie Sanders Delegates About Denial

This is fun. MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle interviewed a pair of Iowa Bernie Sanders delegates on Tuesday, essentially asking them to justify the entire Bernie or Bust movement’s raucous obstinacy on Day 1 of the Democratic National Convention.

Ruhle asked the pair, Kate Larson and Jason Brown, a series of very direct questions about why some Sanders supporters were still fighting a race that has been over for weeks and what exactly they hoped to achieve. The duo responded by either insisting that Hillary Clinton wasn’t technically the nominee yet, or by arguing that their candidate had been disrespected because the opening day of the convention to nominate Hillary Clinton for president was focused on nominating Hillary Clinton for president.

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The entire quite funny and entertaining video is above, but here are some of the highlights:

Ruhl: First I want to commend you both, the passion and presence you have shown thus far, clearly yesterday we saw you morning, noon, and night. But do you have it out of your system? What are we going to expect today, Jason?
Brown: Well we’re going to do everything we can for our candidate. We represent the Democrats in the state of Iowa and we’re going to do the right thing for them.
Ruhl: What does that mean? In the state of Iowa, Bernie Sanders didn’t win. Mathematically, we already knew he wasn't getting the nomination. We’re here at this point at the DNC. Hillary is the nominee. What is the point of continuing this message?
Larson: Half of Iowa elected Bernie Sanders and the ideals that he believes in. So we were elected from District One to do a job to represent not only Bernie Sanders for president, but the ideals that he carries on.
Ruhl: But disrupting the opening prayer, could one not argue that's pretty disrespectful?
Brown: Actually, I thought it was disrespectful to have the prayer have an endorsement for Secretary Clinton.
Ruhl: She’s the nominee.
Brown: But technically not yet.

It went on like this.

Ruhl: Bernie Sanders, he built the fire. He lit it and now he is saying ‘guys, time to put it out.' Are you not listening to your candidate?
Larson: I would argue is that he is not saying that we put anything out. He’s saying we need to continue and fight harder.
Ruhl: For Hillary Clinton. He said it last night.
Larson: For Progressive candidates. And we’ve made a lot of progress and we do have some faith that she has gone farther left and will support things that we care about.
….
Larson: It was supposed to be Bernie Sanders’ night, right? He is speaking. There was very little mention or recognition of the candidate. And in a four-day convention we would have at least liked the chance to vote, be recognized for what we’ve done. But instead, within the first ten minutes of the convention 'we are here to elect Hillary Clinton. We are here to elect Hillary Clinton.'
Ruhl: But we are. You are. This is a convention for the next president of the United States. If you want to take your support for possible politicians who have your progressive values, why not take those efforts and that money to people running for other offices? Hillary Clinton is the expected nominee.
Larson: And we will. Sen. Sanders is still a candidate. He has not released his delegates. And we’re going to do everything we can for our candidate.

The Nile is a river in Egypt. Denial is a thing that some Bernie Sanders delegates are still apparently going through.

July 26 2016 9:29 AM

84-Year-Old Catholic Priest Killed in Fourth ISIS-Linked Europe Attack Since July 14

Two attackers took five hostages in a Catholic church in the northern French town of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray on Tuesday, killing an 84-year-old priest before being shot and killed by responding law enforcement officers. The perpetrators declared that they were acting in the name of ISIS, and the group has claimed responsibility for the attack. From the Guardian:

Police have reportedly identified one of the attackers as a local man who had tried to leave for Syria years ago and was turned back at the Turkish border. He was ordered by a judge to wear an electronic bracelet in March 2016.
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One of the remaining hostages was seriously injured; the other three were unharmed.

The attack comes two days after an ISIS-linked suicide bomber injured a number of people in Ansbach, Germany; eight days after four individuals were injured in an ISIS-linked ax attack on a train near Würzburg, Germany; and 12 days after the ISIS-linked Bastille Day attack in Nice, France, that killed 84.

The Guardian reports that residents of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray say the priest killed Tuesday "should have retired at 75 but wanted to continue serving the church and community."

July 26 2016 1:33 AM

Did Bernie Do Enough?

Two weeks ago in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Bernie Sanders stood on a stage with Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and endorsed her—finally. The official show of support was more than a month in the making. What little drama was left in the Democratic primary ended on June 7, when Clinton won the final two remaining big-ticket nominating contests on the calendar: New Jersey and California. But Sanders had dragged his feet in endorsing her, using the threat of a contested convention to win a few notable victories in the party platform. Anyway, when he finally did what he had more or less been promising he would eventually do all year, the only question that remained was whether his army of supporters would fall in line.

On Monday, the opening day of the Democratic National Convention, it felt like they wouldn’t. The discord was apparent from even before the gavel fell to start the convention, with Bernie supporters booing everyone from the DNC chairwoman they despise, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, to the Democratic candidate they ostensibly trust above all others, Sanders himself, at delegate meetings that began the day. But then, Michelle Obama stole the show with the most moving, unifying speech of the night. And not long after, Bernie Sanders arrived to deliver the most anticipated.

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Sanders began by stating the obvious on a day when many of his supporters attempted to shout down any- and everyone they deemed part of the Democratic establishment. “I understand that many people here in this convention hall and around the country are disappointed about the final results of the nominating process,” Sanders said. “I think it’s fair to say that no one is more disappointed than I am.” Based on the number of delegates the cameras captured openly weeping or yelling in the crowd during his speech, I’m not positive Sanders’ assessment was accurate. Bernie, though, did seem genuine in both his disappointment that he wouldn’t be the nominee and in his desire to support the woman who will be.

“We need leadership which brings our people together and makes us stronger, not leadership that insults Latinos, Mexicans, Muslims, and women,” Sanders said, jabbing his right hand into the air for effect in the stilted rhythm of his shouted words. “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.”

The speech itself was remarkably similar to the one Sanders had given in New Hampshire. He opened by spending longer than expected talking about the success of his own campaign and praising his supporters, telling them, “I look forward to your votes during roll call.” But then he moved on, focusing on the substantial areas of policy agreement he shares with Hillary, and the many, many, many areas where they both disagree with Donald J. Trump. “If you don’t believe this election is important, if you think you can sit it out,” he warned in a near carbon copy of a line he delivered earlier this month, “take a moment to think about the Supreme Court justices that Donald Trump would nominate, and what that would mean to civil liberties, equal rights and the future of our country.”

To me, his most persuasive argument came early in his wind-up. “I hope you take enormous pride in the historical accomplishments we have achieved,” he said. “Together, my friends, we have begun a political revolution to transform America and that revolution, our revolution, continues.” Translation: A vote for Clinton this November doesn’t mean an end to the struggle, only a temporary cease-fire in order to keep Trump out of the White House. It wasn’t an original message, but it was one some of his supporters could stand to hear again. It was also another reminder to the Bernie-or-bust contingent that if they forge ahead with their anti-Clinton attacks, they’ll be doing it on their own.

So, did Sanders succeed in quelling the rebellion his supporters had launched his name? In the short-term, I doubt it. His delegates will have the chance to cause some more trouble for Clinton and her establishment friends during this week’s roll-call vote, and they are unlikely to stay quiet during the rest of the action. But I maintain that by the time Clinton takes the stage on Thursday night, few voters outside of the convention hall will remember the party discord that was on display Monday. And for that, Bernie deserves some credit.

July 26 2016 1:11 AM

Bernie or Nonplussed

PHILADELPHIA—The Bernie Sanders delegates in California sit in the back. Few things in life or Democratic conventions are coincidences, and this is not one of them.

“They claimed that we couldn’t sit in empty seats [in front] because they were saving them,” said Ivan Enriquez, a Sanders delegate from Santa Ana. He had just about lost his voice after a day of screaming. The “they” in this case are Clinton’s California whips, who wear bright yellow traffic vests (unless they take them off and go as plainclothes whips, I was told). “Ironically, later on,” he continued, “one of their own whips comes to us and tells us we couldn’t save seats. So we could’ve been down there. They stopped us from doing that, so now we’re up here.” So now they’re up there. And from there, they’re the most vocal Sanders-supporting delegation in the arena.

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I was standing with Sanders supporters during the speeches of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, whom many Sanders supporters liked a lot more before she endorsed Hillary Clinton, and part of Bernie Sanders’ speech, before a yellow-vested one of “them” told me to move for violating the fire code. (I was, but this whole overpacked convention, with twice as many delegates as the Republican National Convention and a too-large stage jutting into the crowd, is a raging fire-code violation.) They didn’t pay all that much attention to Warren, but they were rapt during Sanders. The California delegation was split during Sanders’ speech: The bottom half of the delegation (with the good seats) would cheer loudly for Hillary Clinton at the parts of Sanders’ speech praising Clinton, while the cheap-seated Sanders delegates would cheer loudly for Sanders during the parts of Sanders’ speech praising Clinton.

The whole day had gone like this, the two sides persistently out of step. Enriquez complained to me about mistreatment at this morning’s delegation breakfast: All of the speakers, he said, were surrogates for Clinton. “It’s become very clear by the way that the Hillary delegates are acting that they’re not really acting for unity,” he said. “Everything is happening behind the scenes, and that’s how they’re able to achieve unity.”

He noted, further, the difference in socioeconomic status between the Clinton and Sanders members of the California delegation. “I’m a student at [Sacramento State] … If you notice, most of the Bernie delegates are normal-ass people.” Sure, mostly. “If you look at the Hillary delegates, you have chief of staffs, you have people that are legislative aides … they’re not extending their hand.”

Enriquez seconded a story I’d heard earlier in the day, from his fellow delegate Manuel Zapata at the Bernie Delegates Network meeting, about the money Sanders delegates needed to raise simply to get to the convention. Zapata had said that, in his mind, Sanders endorsing Clinton when he did was a mistake because his delegates were still trying to fundraise for their flights and hotels, and this made soliciting donations much harder. Enriquez said he only heard a week and a half ago that he was going to be a delegate, and he raised $3,500 over four days, with hundreds more coming out of his pocket. Enriquez feels an obligation, as someone who’s traveling on other Sanders supporters’ dimes, to be vocal in the arena. “When I get home,” he said, “I have to explain myself to all those people.” Did he do everything he could? This is a pressure that many of Sanders supporters are operating under.

While we were talking, his fellow Sanders delegates around him began to boo, and Enriquez, barely a vocal cord left, got up to boo with them. I asked him what Elizabeth Warren had said. He thought about it, but looked lost. “It’s been a long night.”

July 26 2016 12:20 AM

Photos of Angry, Sad, Horrified Bernie Sanders Supporters During His Convention Speech

Bernie Sanders gave a rousing speech at the Democratic National Convention on Monday that sought to unify the Democratic Party behind Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. Some people, though, were not buying it. Specifically, Sanders’ most diehard supporters, some of whom promised to sit out the election or vote for a third-party candidate rather than back Clinton.

Here are the faces of some of the most disappointed, angry, and downright despondent Sanders supporters in Philadelphia on Monday.

bernie1
Poor souls.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

sanders2
OK, but what was she expecting?

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

sanders3
I mean, nobody died.

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

sanders4
Maybe at least pretend to hold that "I'm With Her" sign like you mean it?

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

bernie6
Too much Bern felt.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

580961970
"This is not happening. This is not happening."

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

580961816
[Insert Celine Dion lyrics here.]

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

580961674
See the guy above Bernie's head? That's the saddest anyone has ever been while wearing a lei, EVER.

Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

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July 25 2016 11:30 PM

Elizabeth Warren’s Convention Speech Was Not Inspiring. It Didn’t Have to Be.

Poor Elizabeth Warren. In her speech to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, she proved once again that she was one of the most effective surrogates that the Clinton campaign possesses. The problem was that she followed Michelle Obama's stunning speech, and paled a bit—OK, a lot—in comparison. Still, Warren's address—which clearly laid out the distinctions between the two parties—was an extremely smart attack on both Trump's GOP and the man himself, a clever two-pronged strategy that the Clinton campaign would be wise to use against Trump over the next three months.

Warren's speech attempted to do two things. The first was to define Donald Trump as "a man who must never be president of the United States." Warren seems to go after Trump with particular glee (and Trump clearly feels the same way about going after the woman he, oddly, refers to as "goofy Elizabeth Warren"). Part of her rhetorical strategy is to use a dismissively sarcastic tone while unleashing specific attacks, which prevents her from sounding glib and usually diminishes him. On Monday night, she talked about Trump's reaction to the housing crash, and his role in Trump University, and then shifted into a discussion of his tax plan and opposition to a minimum wage hike, all as an attempt to undermine his credibility among the working class voters who make up a chunk of his support. And then, every few sentences, she’d really bite. Trump, according to Warren, is "a man who has never sacrificed anything for anyone. Every second of every day."

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One of the problems for Democrats in this election is that Hillary Clinton's extreme unpopularity reduces the built-in advantage that her party has over the GOP. But Warren circumvents this by focusing on the party more than the candidate. At a time when the Democratic president has strong approval ratings, and Americans view the Democratic Party more favorably than the Republican Party, Warren tried to characterize the election as a choice between parties and visions, or platforms. She compared the parties’ policies (from economics to science) and values. Or, as she put it, speaking of Democrats and Republicans, there is "a huge difference between the people trying to level out the playing field and the people trying to keep the system rigged."

Warren was probably never going to be Clinton's vice presidential choice, but she further proved on Monday night that she will continue to be a highly valued attack dog. She also remains the person with the best chance to unite the two wings of the Democratic Party. Her pragmatism in government and interest in the details of policymaking, combined with her appeal to a more liberal and activist base, and political dexterity, are entirely unique. The only thing left for her to prove is that, on the national stage, she can make the same strong case for herself that she can for others.

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