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Democratic Convention Kicks Off Amid Friction From Bernie Sanders Backers

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

PHILADELPHIA — The Democratic National Convention got off to a rocky start on Monday, as delegates supporting Bernie Sanders booed at mentions of unifying behind Hillary Clinton and her running mate, Tim Kaine.

As Rev. Cynthia Hale delivered an opening prayer, her mention of uniting behind the pending nomination drew cheers from the delegates, followed by chants of “Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!”

At times Clinton supporters out-cheered Sanders delegates, but the display of continued friction was a turbulent start to the opening of the convention.

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), the permanent chair of the convention, said at one point, “I’ll be respectful of you, and I want you to be respectful to me.”

She said, “We are all Democrats and we need to act more like it.” That also got some boos.

Some California Sanders delegates shouted “Wikileaks! Wikileaks!,” a reference to the release of a trove of hacked Democratic National Committee emails released last week, in which some party officials made remarks showing favoritism toward Clinton.

The DNC issued an apology to Sanders supporters just as the convention was starting.

“On behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email,” said the statement, which was signed by seven officers including Donna Brazile, the incoming chair. These comments do not reflect the values of the DNC or our steadfast commitment to neutrality during the nominating process.

Delegates for Sanders also are expected to make a loud showing when he speaks to the convention later in the evening, and the question is whether he will receive any boos if he calls for his supporters to rally around Clinton. Earlier in the day, he received some jeers as he called for just that, and he told the crowd, “This is a real world we live in. Trump is a bully and a demagogue.”

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, secretary of the Democratic National Committee and the mayor of Baltimore, called the convention to order at about 4:20 p.m. ET.

Boys II Men performed just minutes later.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz was to appear at the opening of the proceedings, but she cancelled those plans after she was met with protest when she spoke on Monday morning to the Florida delegation. Wassermann Schultz announced on Sunday that she was resigning following the convention.