With Bernie Sanders expected to endorse Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday, this past weekend’s platform fight was a fitting denouement for the Sanders campaign.
Sanders’ team, as he has through the entire campaign, was able to force concessions from Clinton on climate change and support for a $15 minimum wage. But, in a defeat Saturday, Sanders’ delegates were thwarted in their effort to include direct opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade deal down as TPP.
Clinton’s victory on TPP during this past weekend’s platform committee meeting in Orlando had a Georgia component. As did Sanders’ loss.
David Worley, an Atlanta attorney and former state party chairman, is a Clinton delegate to this month’s convention in Philadelphia. He’s also on the platform committee and was tapped by the Clinton campaign to argue against the TPP amendment.
“They were able to get a lot of their concerns addressed in the platform,” Worley said. “A lot of the platform represents a unity position from both campaigns. A lot of the amendments offered to the platform Friday and Saturday were ones both campaigns were fully behind.”
Worley was one of three Clinton delegates from Georgia on the platform committee. The others were Democratic activist Verna Cleveland and Michael Thurmond, former state labor commissioner and candidate for DeKalb County CEO. Sanders’ campaign had one Georgian on the committee: Sara Henderson, who is working for Jim Barksdale’s campaign for U.S. Senate.
The trade fight is a seemingly minor point. Both sides had already agreed to include language making clear the party is wary of trade deals that threaten American jobs, but former NAACP President Benjamin Jealous offered an amendment that specifically gave a thumbs down to TPP.
Henderson, who wanted it to be clear she was speaking for herself and not Barksdale, said the TPP vote was important to Sanders supporters.
“We wanted to go on record as the Sanders campaign to say we tried to put that exclusive language in the platform so we would have it record that TPP is one of the big ones we oppose.”
Making the situation even stranger: Both Sanders and Clinton have publicly opposed TPP. The Clinton team’s opposition to the specific language in the amendment stemmed directly from the fact that President Barack Obama supports it.
Worley said despite the trade dust-up, he got the sense Sanders’ team left Orlando pleased and ready to join the team.
“I got the sense from spending two very, very long days with Sanders people on the committee that they are ready to get behind the nominee,” he said.
Henderson said much the same. While she expects there to be debate on the convention floor in Philadelphia later this month on TPP and other issues, she came away pleased with the sense of cooperation.
“It was very evident (the leaders of both campaigns) were working hard to try and come to an agreement and the Clinton campaign was working hard to be fair,” she said. “I was impressed by that. We got a lot of concessions we as a campaign I didn’t think we were going to get.”
If and when Sanders endorses Clinton, Henderson said his supporters will follow his lead.
“When I was working with the (Sanders) campaign that was always the thought: After a certain point we don’t have enough pledged delegates,” she said. “The math doesn’t work out, so let’s try and move the platform in a progressive direction and then we need to create party unity because both campaigns oppose Trump. We want to work together to defeat Donald Trump.”
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