Sen. Bernie Sander addresses his electoral delegates gathered at the Convention CeReuters/Bryan Woolston

On a day when Bernie Sanders’ supporters took to the streets, and delegates booed the populist candidate after he urged them to vote for Hillary Clinton, party unity looked tenuous as the Democratic National Convention began Monday in Philadelphia.

Fractures between Clinton and Sanders supporters have grown more divisive in the wake of leaked emails that showed Democratic Party members were working to undermine Sanders’ primary election campaign.

But for many delegates, these battle lines among Democrats are only giving Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump an easy win come November.

"I’m a pledged delegate to Bernie," said Gisele Fetterman, who represents the 14th Congressional District in Pennsylvania. "I will vote Bernie this week and I will support Hillary Clinton in November.
"I do feel we all need to come together. We need to look at the bigger picture of the party, and I hope we can move toward that," Fetterman said.


Her husband, John Fetterman, is a former Democratic Senate candidate who sought Sanders’ support in his campaign. He is attending the convention at the Wells Fargo Center as a nondelegate and echoed her eventual support for Clinton.

"Unity is the important thing, we all have to come together as a party," John said. "As a Sanders supporter in my race, and my wife as a Sanders delegate, we believe that it’s important to honor Bernie, but it’s also important to move on and unite as a party."

"We’re stronger together, and we need to do everything we can to defeat Donald Trump," he added.

But some delegates don't see Clinton as a viable challenger to Trump come November.

Bruce Taub, an Orleans, Massachusetts, resident and elected delegate bound to Sanders, said he's inspired by Sanders, but not by Clinton.

"I’m interested in Bernie's hope that we can transform our nation. Bernie represents change. Hillary doesn't represent change, and Trump represents change in the wrong direction," Taub said.

"That notion, that kind of, 'we're going to return to the past for our greatness' is an appeal to white racism in my opinion," Taub said, referencing Trump’s "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan. "It’s not sympathetic to the diversity of our national origins and interests."

The environmental lawyer was among those booing the Vermont senator Monday afternoon, a moment he described as "visceral."

When asked if he plans to vote for Clinton, assuming she’s the nominee, Taub said he doesn’t need to make that decision now.

"The odds are, inevitably, that I will," he said.

Mostly, delegates have applauded Taub and Fetterman's willingness to compromise.

Wilfred Rosas, mayor of Dunkirk in western New York, is a delegate bound to Clinton who said any rifts among supporters is ultimately not good for the party.

"The primary happened already, the delegation here that’s happening today and this week is supposed to be uniting the party,"Rosas said.

And Ruth Balser, a Newtown, Massachusetts, resident said she’s bound to Clinton "for life," but sees the necessity in repairing party rifts.

"It’s very important and great that Sen. Sanders is encouraging his supporters to support Hillary Clinton because we need a unified Democratic party. The difference between us and the Republicans is so huge at this point,"Balser said.

"Our party is really inclusive, supports diversity, wants all of our American values of equality and freedom and the other guys aren’t there," the state congresswoman said.

For some Pennsylvania delegates, the issue of party unity is less fueled by emotions or political concessions, but rather rooted in the belief that Trump cannot become the next president.

Pete Winebrake, a Montgomery County employment attorney, said the matter comes down to the fact that his state is a battleground.

"I definitely think it’s a lot easier for delegates from states like California, which is where you’re hearing so much of the dissent, it’s much easier for those delegates to say they’re not going to back Hillary because they’re coming out of states that no Democrat could lose," Winebrake said. "It’s just not possible."

"The Pennsylvania delegation is very much behind the notion of supporting Hillary," he added.

“I’m going to support Hillary, and I believe that the overwhelming majority of Bernie Sanders' delegates are going to be voting for Hillary."

At a delegate breakfast Monday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf reiterated the notion of unity.

"We recognize and respect those disagreements," the governor said. "The things that divide us are far less important, as Hillary says, than the things that unite us."

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