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May 09, 2016

Rendell denies saying Sanders supporters 'better behave' at Philly DNC

Sanders supporters call for one million people to converge on Philadelphia for the DNC in July

Politics Elections
050916_SandersRendell Matt Rourke/Jose Luis Magana/AP

Former Gov. Ed Rendell (L) stands before Tom Wolf takes the oath of office to become the 47th governor of Pennsylvania Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (R) speaks at a civil rights rally at Lincoln Memorial in Washington Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015.

Former Philadelphia mayor and Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell has qualified the comments he made Sunday about the behavior of Bernie Sanders supporters at July's Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. 

During a radio appearance on "The Cats Roundtable," hosted by John Catsimatidis on AM 970 New York, Rendell first said he expects a successful convention at the Wells Fargo Center, but cautioned that the fervor of Sanders supporters could pose problems if they don't accept what he deems an inevitable victory by front-runner Hillary Clinton. Via The Hill:

“I think it’s gonna be a great convention, but of course the key to it is the Sanders people. Bernie’s gonna have his name placed in nomination; we’re gonna have a roll call; there’s gonna be a demonstration in support of Bernie; he’s gonna lose the roll call. His supporters have to behave and not cause trouble. And I think they will, and I think Sen. Sanders will send them a strong message.”

Rendell, who previously chaired the DNC in 2000, announced his support for Hillary Clinton in January after some speculation that he might back an Independent run by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Late Monday afternoon, Rendell posted a statement on Facebook reiterating his respect and admiration for Sanders, as well as his belief that Sanders has an "absolute right" to remain in the race until the end:

"I have never called for Senator Sanders to drop out, I have consistently supported his right to contest every single caucus and primary up to and including the one in DC on June 14th. I have also consistently said he has an absolute right to have his name placed in nomination and to allow his delegates to cast their votes on his behalf. I even said that I think that’s the right thing to do to honor their support and hard work."

Sanders supporters on the subreddit r/BernTheConvention have called for a million people to converge on Philadelphia from July 25-28 to protest what they believe is a corrupt, financially skewed nominating process that culminates with the DNC. Organizers have explicitly said they don't want to create chaos.

BE RESPECTFUL! Over a million Americans call Philadelphia their home, and many more will be there for the convention. It is up to us to self-police one another. Do not let violence be incited, and certainly do not let other Bernie supporters engage in anything that would give him, us, or his message a bad name.

With 12 primaries remaining on the calendar, Bernie Sanders currently trails Clinton by 774 delegates. Clinton needs just 155 additional delegates to clinch the nomination with 2,383 total delegates, both pledged and unpledged.

At this point, the most plausible scenario Sanders has left is to block Clinton from reaching that total until the DNC and then wrest away some of her superdelegates, who are not officially pledged to either candidate. Out of 719 superdelegates, Clinton holds 523; Sanders has 39 — but if you take away those superdelegates (which requires some considerable political squinting) Clinton is still 678 away from securing the nomination.

The inordinate influence of superdelegates has been one of the pillars and appeals of Sanders' campaign against establishment politics. His supporters say the impact of party insiders on the nomination process is just one prominent example of an undemocratic system that can tilt a close race against the will of the voting public. Even presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, whom Sanders says has no chance of becoming president, expediently argued that the Democratic party has treated Sanders "terribly."

Rendell argues that despite everything Sanders has said about his rival's entrenchment in American politics-as-usual, Clinton is the better candidate to beat Trump and achieve the kind of reforms Sanders supporters have made their platform. He continues: 

For everyone supporting Senator Sanders and the issues he has raised, it is important to understand that on every one of those issues, Hillary Clinton is far more likely to make progress than Donald Trump. It is far more likely that Hillary Clinton will advance an Immigration Reform Bill than Donald Trump. It is far more likely that Hillary Clinton will make progress towards ensuring universal healthcare than Donald Trump. It is far more likely that Hillary Clinton will appoint Supreme Court judges who will overturn Citizens United than Donald Trump. It is far more likely that Hillary Clinton will do something about income inequality than Donald Trump. If we have a convention where each side respects the other, it will go a long way to ensuring that. When Bernie Sanders' name is placed in nomination, I will rise to my feet and applaud enthusiastically for the things he has accomplished. I hope all of us who attend the Convention will do the same for both of our candidates. If we do that, the issues we care about have a chance to be resolved!

Apart from cutting down his campaign staff in April, Sanders has shown little sign of conceding the race after picking up Indiana last Tuesday. Amid several campaign stops in New Jersey, Sanders told supporters in Atlantic City that they shouldn't let anyone insist he's out of contention, even if it's a decidedly uphill battle.

“If we can win here in New Jersey and win in California and win in some of the other states, and if we can win a majority of the pledged delegates, we’re gonna go into Philadelphia and the Democratic convention and expect to come out with the Democratic nomination. So don’t let — don’t let anybody tell you this campaign is over. We’re gonna fight for the last vote we can find in New Jersey and California.”

Those who goad Sanders to acknowledge his long odds are not getting any concession from the Vermont Senator, either. Last week, when asked what he hopes his legacy will be, Sanders was blunt.

“I hope my legacy will be that I was a very good president of the United States.”

As for Rendell, his singular focus appears to be entirely on defeating the Republican nominee in the general election. He jumped to applaud Sanders a day after his loss to Clinton in Pennsylvania.