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PHILADELPHIA – Despite ongoing protests and a walkout by some delegates representing Sen. Bernie Sanders at the Democratic National Committee, high-profile Hillary Clinton supporters say that reports of party disunity are being blown out of proportion.
After a Tuesday event hosted by climate groups, including the Sierra Club, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland dismissed claims that the DNC protests demonstrated rifts in the party.
“I think that reports of disunity are exaggerated,” said Strickland, who is running for US senate in Ohio this year. “Obviously there are some, a fairly small group that will be a part of the Bernie or bust movement. But I think the vast majority of Bernie supporters or voters understand the consequences of a Trump presidency.”
The governor said that Sanders supporters would come on board once they considered the Supreme Court vacancies that Donald Trump would likely fill.
“If one or two or three or four young, radical conservative people were placed on that court, everything the Bernie supporters care about would be at risk,” Strickland said. “If they have a brain and really thought it through – I’m sure they do have brains, they’re bright people – they would understand the consequences of pulling back and not getting on board with Secretary Clinton.”
Some party leaders hoped that Sanders’ endorsement of Clinton on Monday, as well as the significantly more liberal Democratic party platform, would inspire Sanders voters to coalesce behind Clinton.
Speaking with Business Insider, Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro described the raucous, occasionally anti-Clinton crowd as “energetic.”
“Bernie provided a tremendous positive voice for change. And Hillary has embraced so much of the policy positions and the spirit of Bernie’s campaign. So the ground is set for us to move forward as a united Democratic Party,” Castro said Monday.
“There’s a lot of great energy. Sen. Sanders has been fantastic about helping to unify the party,” Castro said.
Indeed, though protesters at the convention have been vocal, polls show that much of the Democratic Party has already coalesced around Clinton. According to a recent Washington Post poll, only 8% of former Sanders supporters said that they would support Trump over the former secretary of state.
Other party leaders also tweaked reporters for breathless coverage of conventions as a whole.
Sen. Chris Murphy speculated that conventions don’t really matter all too much in the first place, saying that he “tends to overlook” the narratives that emerge from conventions, noting stories of Democratic party disunity in 2008 after the contest between then-Senators Clinton and Barack Obama.
“I think that they make for very interesting TV, but I don’t think they dictate the decisions that voters make in November,” Murphy told Business Insider.
He added: “I remember the reports of conflict eight years ago when supporters of Hillary Clinton said they’d never support Barack Obama. This is normal for a party that prides itself on having a big tent. And I think this is a more interesting storyline than it is dispositive on what’s going to happen in November.”
Still, Murphy noted that despite his skepticism about convention coverage, he thought Tuesday was a bit calmer than the previous day’s events.
“I think today was a good day. People were fired up in the hall to have Bernie bring us together. And I thought some of the testimony tonight from the mothers of gun violence was powerful,” Murphy said.