- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 27, 2016

PHILADELPHIA — Rather than extend olive branches to Sen. Bernard Sanders’ supporters, Hillary Clinton keeps ignoring them.

At the Democratic National Convention, Sanders supporters say it’s getting increasingly harder, not easier, to put aside a contentious party primary and line up behind the former first lady.

From rumblings that Mrs. Clinton will change positions and support the Trans-Pacific Partnership, to her selection of Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia as her running mate, to her hiring of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz immediately after revelations that she used her position as Democratic National Committee chairwoman to sabotage Mr. Sanders’ campaign, some supporters of the senator from Vermont feel angry, alienated and taken for granted by the Clinton campaign.

In fact, some Sanders delegates say Republican Donald Trump, Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party presidential hopeful Jill Stein seem deeply interested in courting their votes while Mrs. Clinton sticks a thumb in their eye at every turn.

“Trump, Johnson and Stein have all asked for the Sanders voters, and Clinton campaign acts like we have to [vote for her]. They don’t ask for our votes,” said Monica Thomas, a Sanders delegate from Roanoke, Virginia, echoing sentiments of other Sanders delegates from across the country.

Mrs. Clinton angered Sanders supporters by choosing as her running mate Mr. Kaine, a veteran politician who has embraced pro-life positions and supported the TPP, and has taken other stances that are unacceptable to progressives. Mr. Kaine was scheduled to formally accept the party’s vice presidential nomination Wednesday night.

Immediately on the heels of that choice, WikiLeaks released nearly 20,000 emails showing Ms. Wasserman Schultz and other top DNC officials mocked the Sanders campaign and tried to push news stories that would derail the senator’s presidential bid. That revelation confirmed the suspicions of Sanders supporters, who long believed that the Democratic Party establishment desperately wanted Mrs. Clinton to win.

What came next was much worse. Hours after the email scandal forced Ms. Wasserman Schultz to step down as DNC chairwoman, the Clinton campaign said it was bringing her onboard to work with the campaign. The move, in the eyes of Sanders supporters, erased any doubt that Ms. Wasserman Schultz and Mrs. Clinton had been working together the whole time.

“I was deeply saddened that the Clinton campaign immediately turned around and said [Ms. Wasserman Schultz] works for the campaign,” said Christopher Fury, another Sanders delegate from Roanoke.

He said Mrs. Clinton is “making it difficult” to vote for her in November and “is generally tone-deaf.”

But the most serious breach of trust with the left may have come from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a close Clinton ally and top surrogate. Mr. McAuliffe said Tuesday that, if elected president, Mrs. Clinton would reverse positions and support the TPP, a trade proposal loathed by Mr. Sanders, most progressives and even Mr. Trump.

Mr. McAuliffe tried to walk back his comments Wednesday, but the damage already had been done and added to the belief that Mrs. Clinton is, at best, untrustworthy.

The Bernie Delegates Network, a coalition of Sanders supporters at the convention, said when it surveys its members, trade is the biggest issue mentioned. Coming just after the pick of Mr. Kaine, who backed fast-track trade authority in 2015, Mr. McAuliffe’s comments sent all the wrong signals, said Norman Solomon, national coordinator of the network.

“This is very corrosive,” Mr. Solomon said.

Karen Bernal, a former chairwoman of the California Democratic Party’s Progressive Caucus, said Mr. McAuliffe’s words didn’t surprise her but did add more weight to the fears about Mrs. Clinton.

“It’s kind of like the leaked emails,” she said. “Just like the rigging and the orchestration: We always kind of knew it, but it’s helpful when we hear it out of the horse’s mouth.”

The first two days of the convention did little to win over the Sanders supporters, according to a poll the network took of its members. Of the more than 300 who responded, 55 percent said they were “less enthusiastic” about the Democratic ticket than they were before the convention.

“It is an adversarial situation right now because we are flat out against the agenda that’s being foisted on us,” Ms. Bernal said.

Progressive leaders say that, moving forward, the onus is on Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Kaine to shore up support on the left, which will be critical to a November victory.

“What matters now is what happens next,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the powerful progressive Change Campaign Committee. “What progressives are looking for is to see Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine not just embracing the personal positions they’ve taken on TPP, debt-free college and economic populist issues, but really authentically campaigning on those issues. Democrats are masters of their own destiny at this point.”

Stephen Dinan contributed to this report.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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