PHILADELPHIA — Acknowledging that he and Democratic presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton disagree on a number of issues, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told a packed house at the Wells Fargo Center Monday night that November’s election must be about “bringing our people together, not dividing us up.”
On the convention floor, Sanders delegates had mixed responses. Karen Bernal, an Asian-American Sanders delegate from California, said she sees a huge disconnect between Democratic party leadership and the rank and file.
“I would tell you that I am very disgusted with the leadership of the party,” Bernal, whose mother is of Japanese descent, told NBC News by phone from the convention floor.
“The rank and file has been and is now way out in front of the party,” she continued. “They are by and large quite progressive.”
Sanders was last to take the stage Monday night, punctuating a diverse array of speakers, including Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), First Lady Michelle Obama, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who was speculated as a possible Clinton vice presidential pick.
“Yes, we become stronger when black and white, Latino, Asian-American, Native American — all of us — stand together,” Sanders said to applause. “Yes, we become stronger when men and women, young and old, gay and straight, native born and immigrant fight to create the kind of country we all know we can become.”
Sanders said the country needs leadership that "improves the lives of working families, the children, the elderly, the sick and the poor” and that brings people of all stripes together."
By these measures, any objective observer will conclude that — based on her ideas and her leadership — Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States,” he said. “The choice is not even close.”
The raucous convention floor at times featured Clinton and Sanders’ delegates shouting down one another, as “Hillary” chants were greeted with louder “Bernie” chants, and vice-versa. The goal of unifying the entire Democratic party behind Clinton, the presumptive nominee, appeared to be a tough sell for some in the audience.
While the number of AAPI Sanders’ delegates wasn’t immediately known, the Vermont senator has enjoyed high favorability among younger AAPIs. Three in four between the ages of 18 and 34 viewed him favorably, compared to roughly one in two who felt the same way about Clinton, according to a national survey released in May by nonpartisan groups.
Many younger Americans, including AAPI voters, are drawn to Sanders’ platform, which includes providing free tuition to public colleges as well as offering universal health coverage to all Americans.
Bernal said it wasn’t a shock that Sanders endorsed Clinton, adding she still wasn’t sure whom she would vote for come November. In California, Clinton won the June primary, defeating Sanders 56 percent to 43 percent. She received 325 delegates to Sanders 222.
“A lot of it will depend on what unravels between now and then, and also what develops between now and then,” she said, noting that she will still cast her vote for Sanders at Tuesday night's roll call, when delegations announce how many nominating votes each candidate has received.
Despite this, Bernal was absolutely certain who would not get her vote.
“We can’t afford a Trump presidency under any circumstance,” she said.
Also asked about the roll call, Raisa Donato, another AAPI Sanders delegate from California, told NBC News by phone, “I’m going to ask my people what they want and roll with the punches.”
Donato added she had hoped Clinton would have chosen someone other than Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) for vice president. Kaine has been highly regarded within the AAPI community, but some Sanders supporters, including AAPIs, see him as a party insider beholden to banks.
For their part, Clinton’s AAPI delegates and supporters tout her experience as former first lady and secretary of state when asked why she’s most fit to lead the country.
They also praise her for her support of the LGBTQ community, her stance on immigration, which includes a pathway to full and equal citizenship, and her platform to make public college free for students of families whose income is less than $125,000.
But some AAPI Sanders’ delegates said her campaign must change.
“The Clinton campaign needs to come together and they need to support us and not be against us,” Donato said.