PHILADELPHIA —Hillary Clinton’s campaign is in talks with Bernie Sanders about giving the Vermont senator a larger role at the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night in a bid to heal rifts in the party, as her team seeks to reintroduce her to voters still deeply skeptical of her candidacy.
The possibilities include having Sanders formally nominate Clinton during a scheduled roll-call vote — a move designed as a show of unity designed to quell potential demonstrations on the convention floor by the senator’s supporters.
“We’re obviously part of the boiler room operation,” Sanders’s campaign manager Jeff Weaver this morning. Asked about the possibility of Sanders nominating Clinton himself, he demurred. “I don’t want to give up all of the intrigue just yet.”
In 2008, at a similar moment of stress between rival Democratic camps, Clinton came to the convention floor, interrupted the roll call vote and moved to unanimously nominate Barack Obama as the Democratic presidential candidate.
By the end of Tuesday, Clinton is poised to make history as the first woman to be nominated for president by a major party. But Democrats also want to first reverse sustained negative perceptions of her and on Tuesday will rely on people that the Clinton campaign says have been touched by her decades of work as a lawyer, first lady, senator and the nation’s top diplomat to make the case.
Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta said Tuesday that Democrats “need to move on” from infighting over the outcome of the primary, which saw Clinton soundly defeat challenger Sen. Bernie Sanders in both votes and delegates.
The comments came after a chaotic day marred by intraparty squabbling on the floor of the Democratic convention and in backroom negotiations between the Clinton campaign and outgoing Democratic National Committee Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The first session of the convention was repeatedly marred by the shouts and boos of Sanders supporters who repeatedly interrupted speakers in the hall.
On Tuesday morning, Podesta insisted, “We’ve got to get over it.”
The Clinton campaign appreciates Sanders’s endorsement and his decades of work on liberal causes, “but we need to move on and consolidate around Hillary,” he said on “CBS This Morning.” “And I think the people watching television last night, not just the people in the hall but the people watching television, what did they see? They saw that full-throated endorsement by Bernie.”
Sanders doubled-down on his support for Clinton Tuesday morning. Speaking at a breakfast meeting of the California delegation, he dismissed the boos of supporters and urged them to back her.
“It is easy to boo, but it is harder to look your kids in the face” if Trump becomes president because Democrats didn’t support the ticket, he said.
But at a morning breakfast hosted by Bloomberg Politics, Sanders expressed befuddlement at the idea that he would release his delegates before the roll call.
“Why would I do that?” Sanders asked. “There’s an election. We’re gonna lose, but if you were campaigning for me for six months or eight months and knocking your brains out, and the roll call came, who do you think you’d vote for? You’d vote for Bernie Sanders. That’s what I would do. And then, the other side gets more votes.”
With the healing process among Democrats still underway, Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook said that Tuesday night’s programming is designed to remind Americans about the former secretary of state’s long public service career.
“A lot of people aren’t familiar with her accomplishments,” Mook told ABC’s “Good Morning America,” noting that former president Bill Clinton will give the night’s big speech.
The former president is poised to address a Democratic convention as a political spouse for the first time. Clinton — who could soon become the country’s first “first man” — has been a Democratic convention staple for more than a quarter century. His 1988 keynote address was widely panned as a meandering, boring speech, but his 1992 nomination acceptance speech buoyed his struggling campaign. In more recent years, the former president has served as a political character witness, most notably for Obama at his 2012 convention.
Hillary Clinton will not travel to Philadelphia to watch Bill Clinton’s address to the convention, but will instead watch the speech from her home in Chappaqua, N.Y., aides said. The candidate and her daughter, Chelsea, are scheduled to address the convention on Thursday.
While the former president headlines the evening, the convention is also set to hear from several others of the victims of gun violence or police-involved incidents, including Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, who died after being put in a chokehold by a New York City police officer in 2014; Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, who was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla. in 2012; and Lesley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014.
Gun control has become a leading issue of concern for Clinton, but speakers are also set to remind Democrats of her work on health-care reform as first lady and a senator and foreign affairs as secretary of state.
Meanwhile, Sen. Timothy M. Kaine (D-Va.,), Clinton’s freshly minted running mate, planned to travel to Philadelphia on Tuesday ahead of his scheduled acceptance speech on Wednesday night.
Wasserman Schultz also remained in Philadelphia, showing up Tuesday morning at a brunch hosted by lobbyist Heather Podesta and packed with lawmakers and top Democratic players. A steady line of people came by to hug her and ask her if she was holding up. She said she was.
The outgoing chairman declined to be interviewed about the drama surrounding her, but stated unequivocally she was remaining in Philadelphia all week.
Democrats began their presidential nominating convention Monday with a struggle to fully unite behind Clinton, following a dramatic day of intraparty squabbling and protests.
But by the end of the evening — after back-to-back-to-back speeches by first lady Michelle Obama, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Sanders — the party began to focus more on defeating Republican nominee Donald Trump than on fighting among themselves.
The program featured Trump in absentia, in video highlight reels of controversial statements he has made. Democrats used Trump’s past insults to tee up speakers representing some of the most offended groups, including women, the disabled and immigrants.
Trump was watching the turmoil and the convention speeches, and needled Clinton, Warren and Sanders via Twitter.
“Bernie Sanders totally sold out to Crooked Hillary Clinton. All of that work, energy and money, and nothing to show for it! Waste of time,” he wrote.
Abby Phillip, Lois Romano, Vanessa Williams and John Wagner contributed to this story.