July 25, 2016 - 8:00 PM
PHILADEPHIA, United States - The first day of the Democratic convention included an FBI investigation, the party chair quitting, the presidential nominee getting booed, apologies, and warnings of a Russian plot to defeat Hillary Clinton.
If indeed Vladimir Putin's Kremlin intended to sow chaos in this U.S. presidential campaign, that mission was surely accomplished Monday.
The FBI announced it would investigate the hacking of the party's servers as thousands of incendiary emails were dumped onto the site Wikileaks just before Democrats gathered in Philadelphia.
The emails revealed mockery and opposition to insurgent candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders within the party's upper echelons. Their public release poured gasoline over embers of bitterness still smoldering from a long primary season.
The roar of the ensuing fire was evident when Sanders was later booed by his own supporters, even as he encouraged them to continue a long-term fight to elect progressives at every level of government. In the short term, however, he urged them to vote for the woman who beat him.
''Brothers and sisters, this is the real word that we live in,'' Sanders said, as supporters made the thumbs-down sign and chanted, ''We Want Bernie! We Want Bernie!''
''Trump is a bully and a demagogue. Trump has made bigotry and hatred the cornerstone of his campaign... He has insulted Mexicans and Latinos, he has insulted women and African-Americans... Trump is a danger for the future of our country and must be defeated. And I intend to do everything I can to see he is defeated.''
The crowd responded with jeers that drowned out its progressive champion.
It was even worse for party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She'd already announced she would step down after this week; she didn't last a day. She resigned her convention role after being drowned out by boos while speaking to delegates from her home state Monday. Party titan Nancy Pelosi, who endorsed Clinton, was also booed by attendees from her home state.
The party delivered an apology to Sanders supporters as formal proceedings began. Clinton's campaign said convention speeches would be optimistic, offering ideas for helping people and showcasing Clinton's lifelong commitment to public service.
Campaign manager Robby Mook contrasted that with Trump, whose convention featured angry speeches, few solutions and a headliner whose lifetime cause, Mook said, has been his own personal self-aggrandizement. Mook also said the party leadership is united behind Clinton, unlike the Republicans whose most famous members mostly stayed home or failed to endorse Trump.
Sanders speaks Monday night, as do Michelle Obama and senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker. President Barack Obama, former president Bill Clinton and reportedly ex-New York mayor Michael Bloomberg will address the convention later in the week.
It's true that opposition to Trump persists in Republican ranks, but it was quiet in Cleveland. In Philadelphia, it's been noisy in the street. Pro-Sanders protesters like Lily Raywood said they'll never back the nominee. When asked whether she worried about helping to elect Trump, Raywood replied, ''No. I'm not responsible for that... Sorry. I'm not.''
Many Sanders supporters are convinced the nomination was stolen from him. Some say they're still hoping for some miraculous, mathematically improbable come-from-behind win at the convention.
That despite the fact Clinton received 25 per cent more votes in the primaries and won nearly a dozen more contests. The party establishment also favoured her — a fact the leaked documents make clear.
Polls say she's struggling to win over about one-third of Sanders supporters.
These devastating timed leaks have complicated the task.
As for the culprit, the security company hired by the Democrats to investigate announced last month that the breach was conducted by two well-known hacking operations linked to Russia's state security apparatus.
Trump has business ties to Putin allies; his campaign manager spent years working with the pro-Putin party in Ukraine; his top military adviser attended a party for the Kremlin news outlet Russia Today; and his policies critical of NATO allies and the European Union are in sync with those of the Russian leader.
The FBI is now investigating.
Clinton's foreign policy adviser said the whole country should be worried about what's happening. He pointed to the month-old analysis from a private security company that blamed Russian state-linked actors.
''(If) Russia was behind this hack, this would be a new watershed,'' said Jake Sullivan.
''This would be Russia interfering in the American presidential election — which is deeply alarming and completely unacceptable, if it bears out to be true.... All Americans, Democrat, Republican or independent — if it turns out to be the case that Russia is doing this — need to stand together and say, 'We will not tolerate this kind of behaviour.'''
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016