Tuesday May 17, 2016 -Sen. Barbara Boxer, a veteran of Democratic politics, says she never saw anything quite like this before.
Loud cursing, shouting, obscene gestures and vile insults, including crude comments about the female anatomy. It was all on display over the weekend as supporters of Bernie Sanders turned the Nevada State Democratic Convention into chaos.
“I was not able to stop these people for doing what they did,” Boxer, a Hillary Clinton supporter, told CNN. “Apparently they’ve done it before. …. This group of about 100 were very vocal, and I can’t describe it — disrespectful doesn’t even explain it, it was worse than that.”
Boxer is hardly the lone Clinton supporter to experience such harassment on the campaign trail. Several top Democrats told CNN publicly and privately that the energy and enthusiasm of Sanders supporters has at times descended into incendiary attacks that threaten to tear apart efforts to unite Democrats against Donald Trump. Several female senators told CNN the attacks have been misogynistic.
What’s more, many Democrats fear that if Sanders does not rein in his supporters, the same ugly scene that occurred in Las Vegas last weekend could replicate itself in the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
“He should get things under control,” Boxer said of Sanders, saying it was worse than the vitriol during the Bush-Gore 2000 recount. “We’re in a race that is very critical. We have to be united. He knows that. I have in fact, called him a couple times, left a couple messages. I’m hopeful he can get control of this.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California said “I do” when asked if Sanders should drop out of the race after voting concludes on June 7, giving Clinton a chance to “pivot” to the general election ahead of the July convention.
“I think it would be most regretful if there becomes a schism,” Feinstein said. “That’s what Donald Trump should want: a schism in our party. … It’s the responsibility particularly of Sen. Sanders to see that that doesn’t happen.”
Sanders officials say that the Democratic Party should embrace the senator’s supporters, not repel them. While they say they don’t condone the behavior of some of their supporters at the Nevada convention, they blame leaders of the Nevada Democratic Party for shutting out Sanders’ backers, prompting the chaos.
“You should not leave,” Joan Kato, the national delegates director, told Sanders supporters in a meeting last week at the Rumor Boutique Hotel. “I’m going to repeat that, unless you are told by someone from the campaign … that you can leave, you should not leave.”
The Sanders campaign hasn’t responded to a request for comment.
After Sanders supporters thought the convention was being shut down prematurely, loud shouting ensued and there were reports of chairs being hurled. The phone number and address of the chairwoman of the Nevada Democratic Party, Roberta Lange, was posted on social media — prompting a flood of more than 1,000 calls, angry voicemails, text messages and even death threats.
“This is a citizen of the United States of America and I just wanted to let you know that I think people like you should be hung in a public execution to show this world that we won’t stand for this sort of corruption,” an unidentified male caller said on the message, provided to CNN and other news outlets. “I don’t know what kind of money they are paying to you, but I don’t know how you sleep at night. You are a sick, twisted piece of s— and I hope you burn for this! …. You cowardless b—, running off the stage! I hope people find you.”
One text message read: “We know where you live… where your kids go to school/grandkids. We have everything on you.”
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