After a rousing gospel choir performance, the Democratic National Convention formally opened just a few minutes ago with Baltimore Mayor and party secretary Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake banging the gavel in place of now-exiting party chair and scandalized Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Not mentioning the controversy, Rawlings-Blake’s short intro brought the self-proclaimed “most diverse convention in history” in Philadelphia to order. With her own “let the convention begin” from the stage, Ohio congresswoman Marcia Fudge will serve as the convetion chair, the party said today.
With none of the expected chaos at first but big cheers and a large symbolic role for Sen. Bernie Sanders perhaps in play, delegates offered sustained applause as the DNC brought the lights down to show video footage on Jumbotrons and local-born 1990s superstars Boys II Men performing. That unity frayed with some booing of a defiant Fudge, and anti-Trans-Pacific Partnership signs go up on the floor and chants of RNC mantra “lock her up” when the Ohio Rep. and others brought up presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton’s name.
Set to be the headline speaker tonight, Sanders got an earful of boos from his own delegate this morning when he said, “We have got to elect Hillary Clinton.” But there was other news at that contentious pre-convention event in the City of Brotherly Love: As the crowd was protesting his call of endorsement and MSNBC and others reported, the Vermont senator’s wife, Jane Sanders, was caught on a hot microphone whispering to Sanders, “They don’t know that your name’s being put in nomination. That’s the concern.”
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) July 25, 2016
If indeed that’s the case, it’ll be déjà vu of a sort for Clinton – who symbolically was put in nomination at the 2008 Democratic Convention in Denver against then-Sen. Barack Obama, the clear primary winner. The former FLOTUS then moved for the delegates to vote a unanimous nomination for Obama – which they did. Michelle Obama is also speaking in primetime tonight, and while she will likely not refer to it, you can expect many references to Melania Trump’s rip-off at the RNC last week of parts of the now FLOTUS’ 2008 convention speech.
With Barack Obama and Bill Clinton also scheduled to speak this week plus Sen. Sanders, Vice President Joe Biden’s wife Jill, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Cory Booker, VP nominee Tim Kaine and of course Hillary Clinton, the Democrats are trying to project a front of unity despite the email hack scandal that has stained their big shindig and caused Wasserman Schultz to resign her role.
Hollywood’s top-tier presence at the DNC may a little more subdued than usual but it will still have the likes of UTA’s Jay Sures and a few other industry heavyweights in Philly. Having hosted a dinner for Kaine last week, Sures is up close with the political process as a pal of current VP Biden and the potential VP and Virginia senator as well as repping the likes of CNN’s Jake Tapper and NBC News’ Chuck Todd – both of whom are covering the DNC this week. CAA’s Bryan Lourd was rumored to also be attending the convention, but Deadline hears the big Clinton supporter and donor will not be in Philly after all. Long time and very big time Clinton backer Haim Saban will be at the DNC this week, sources say. ICM Partner’s co-head of publishing Esther Newberg will be there too.
Among the Hollywood names slated to appear at the DNC tonight are longtime Sanders supporter Sarah Silverman, who has introduced him many times this campaign season; Eva Longoria, who also was at the 2012 DNC; and Saturday Night Live-cast member-turned Minnesota Sen. Al Franken. Demi Lovato and Paul Simon will perform separately. The Simon-penned song “America” was used prominently in a Sanders campaign ad (watch it below).
Monday also saw Trump campaigning for the first time with running mate Gov. Mike Pence in Virginia. With the bumps and twists of his own nominating convention still fresh in mind, the ex-Celebrity Apprentice host wasted no time ripping into the Dems and the fallout from the hacking scandal. The FBI said today it would be formally investigating the hack and who was behind it.
Here’s the Sanders ad featuring Simon & Garfunkel’s “America”: