This morning, Bernie Sanders addressed the Rhode Island delegation over breakfast at the Wyndham Garden Airport Hotel near the Democratic National Convention.
“Our job is not just winning this election and electing Hillary Clinton, it is transforming America and it is making sure that what we put into the Democratic Platform is in fact implemented,” said Sanders.
While speaking to the delegation, Sanders referenced many of his signature issues, such as income inequality, paid family leave, and health care. Sanders said that his campaign is pivoting from one that was trying to elect him as president to one that is trying to build a grassroots movement and get young people running for school boards, city councils, and state legislatures.
“Rhode Island, let’s continue the revolution,” said Sanders.
Rhode Island delegate Jeanine Calkin voted for Bernie during last night’s vote at the DNC. She says Sanders inspired her to run for the Rhode Island Senate this year, as a progressive Democrat against an incumbent in Warwick.
“The impact of what he did during this whole election is going to be felt for a long time,” predicted Calkin.
Chairman of the Rhode Island Democratic Party and State Representative Joe McNamara voted for Clinton during last night’s vote at the DNC.
“As Senator Sanders has said, this campaign is not about Senator Sanders or Secretary Clinton. It’s about the future of this country, and the ideals that are going to be put forth, and the values that are going to enable our children and grandchildren to live in a prosperous society,” said McNamara.
When asked about the Bernie or Bust Movement, Rhode Island delegates said they respect voters’ disappointment and frustration over the outcome of Sanders’ campaign. But Rhode Island delegates have differing opinions about what Sanders supporters should do in November.
Some Bernie delegates are considering voting for presumptive Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein during the general election. Delegate Maggie Kain of Narragansett is considering voting for Jill Stein.
“Being from Rhode Island, we do have the luxury of usually voting for a third party candidate knowing that a democrat will win the state. If we lived in Ohio, I would definitely be voting for Clinton,” said Kain.
Vice Chair of the Rhode Island Delegation John Hamilton is a Sanders supporter, but says he wants to focus on unifying the Democratic Party.
“Bernie ran as a Democrat, and he feels, and I think I feel that same way, that we need to make change within the system to be effective. Third party candidates are great people. However, it’s difficult to win a third party election,” said Hamilton.
Representative McNamara says that the Bernie or Bust movement could hurt the country.
“I think it’s very shortsighted and they should listen to Bernie Sanders because he realizes that this is one of the most important elections that our country will face and that we have to make Hillary Clinton the next president of the United States. A vote for Jill Stein is a vote for Donald Trump,” said McNamara.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse agrees.
“The race is over. When you have somebody who is a real menace like Donald Trump out there as an opponent, this isn’t the time when you can afford vanity objections to the Democratic candidate. People have to get behind and we have to win this race or this is going to be a very, very different America,” said Whitehouse.
Last night, Clinton made history by officially becoming the first female nominee of a major political party in the United States. Rhode Island Delegate Eva-Marie Mancuso voted for Hillary at the DNC.
“Forever I can say to my little granddaughter: I was here when the first woman president was nominated and then hopefully elected,” says Mancuso.
Tonight at the DNC, Clinton’s vice presidential pick Tim Kaine will speak, along with Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama.
With additional reporting by Emily Wooldridge.