Bernie Sanders Supporters Rally Amid Controversy Over DNC's Role

Jul 24, 2016
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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We'll start the program today in Philadelphia, where Democrats are holding their national convention this week. And while they hope the week will be a celebration, it is starting under a cloud. Democratic Party Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is under fire after WikiLeaks, the group that specializes in publishing censored or restricted official documents, released a batch of emails that appear to show DNC staff favoring Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders during the primaries. This morning, Bernie Sanders addressed this on CNN.

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BERNIE SANDERS: There's no question to my mind and I think no question to any objective observer's mind that the DNC was supporting Hillary Clinton and was at opposition to our campaign. So I'm not quite shocked by this. And that is why many, many months ago I made it clear that I thought Debbie Wasserman Schultz should resign, should step down.

MARTIN: So to Philadelphia now, where NPR's Sam Sanders is at a rally of Bernie Sanders supporters. Hi, Sam.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: Hey there, how are you?

MARTIN: So I know it's hot there, but tell me what else is going on. Describe the scene there today.

S. SANDERS: Yeah, so there was a large march today that kicked off around 1:00 p.m. Several thousands of people marched from City Hall to FDR Park here in downtown Philly. And there was a lot of groups. Most were pro-Bernie, but there were some folks for climate change, some anti-fracking folks, some anti-war folks. And they walked out here for their march, and they're going to pick back up again this evening with a concert and a movie screening and some other events. And there are all kinds of protests like these planned for the whole week.

MARTIN: Well, these protests were already planned, and was there any sort of particular message? And I'm wondering if, of course, the WikiLeaks revelations have changed what they're talking about.

S. SANDERS: Yeah, you know, everyone here today was talking about those leaked emails. Twenty thousand DNC emails were leaked by WikiLeaks. They showed party higher-ups conspiring, basically, to hurt Bernie Sanders in the primary process. They wanted to spread the word that his campaign was messy and not organized. There was one official who even suggested that the party should claim that Sanders was an atheist to hurt him with votes in the South. Sanders has said that he is not an atheist, he is Jewish. And I talked with folks here today who said that they were mad about this, but it wasn't a surprise for them. But one guy I talked to, Billy Taylor, he said that this means that the party itself should go.

BILLY TAYLOR: Bernie said it the best. When the banks are too big to fail, break them up. The same holds weight with our political parties. When they're too big to fail, it's time to break them up. Let's Glass-Steagall our parties.

S. SANDERS: He actually was carrying a casket with the letters DNC on it, saying it was time to bury the party.

MARTIN: Did these supporters, these Bernie Sanders supporters, have an opinion about what they'd like him to do next? And what does he say he's going to do next?

S. SANDERS: Yeah, you know, so it depended on who I asked. Some people said they understood why Sanders would support Hillary Clinton. He had to do that. Others said he should run third party. Some others said that they don't care what he does now, they will vote Green Party for Jill Stein. But they all agreed that they were angry about these emails. Sanders has said that he will still speak at the convention Monday evening, still support Clinton, still call on folks to vote for Clinton to stop Trump. But lots of his supporters think he shouldn't be doing that.

MARTIN: That's NPR's Sam Sanders at a Bernie Sanders rally in Philadelphia. Sam, thank you.

S. SANDERS: Thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.