PHILADELPHIA - Shortly before 7 p.m. on Tuesday, the Bernie Sanders portion of the Democratic National Convention came to a close.
It came with him at the microphone, the crowd roaring, emotions etched deeply on his face. But he was in the seats, not on the stage, and he was certifying that he officially had fallen short in his extraordinary run for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States. Sanders never wanted to do this. His supporters didn’t want to see it.
But there he was, contributing to history, closing the traditional roll call vote by nominating Hillary Clinton by acclamation. And if you were in Wells Fargo Arena buffeted by the tidal wave of sound that followed, it was impossible to say how much of the applause was for the grace he showed in his gesture toward party unity and how much was for Clinton becoming the first woman from a major party to run for president.
The fierceness of their primary competition was reflected in that roll call, with various state representatives lauding him as the father of a revolution and her as a ground-breaking candidate. Sometimes, they did both. And sometimes, the love for Sanders was evident in the very way states voted. Nebraska, for example, cast 13 votes for the “hard-working” Clinton and 16 votes “for the man who electrified Nebraska.”
The party had moved the roll call out of prime time, starting shortly before 5 p.m., worried about a potentially over-the-top pro-Bernie scene. But it never emerged. Oh, his supporters seemed to fill every moment of silence in the early going with their chants of “Bernie! Bernie!” And they erupted when Sanders was shown on the big screens that loom above the stage. But only a few dozen Sanders delegates walked out, and there were no organized protests on the floor and no disruptive chants.
That’s not to say everyone was happy with the proceedings. Steven Abreu, 27, a Sanders delegate from Plainview, called Sanders’ speech Monday night in support of Clinton “lip service,” a refrain heard quite a bit in Philadelphia despite the apparent sincerity of Sanders’ plea to Democrats to get behind her. And after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo exuberantly cast 181 of New York’s 289 votes for Clinton, Abreu said, “The New York delegation is still divided with no unity and no respect.” Some Sanders supporters tried to occupy a media work area in protest, with others sitting in a circle outside with black tape on their mouths. Passion dies hard.
And so the convention marched on, its center of gravity passing from the senator to the secretary, the thunder now raining down for her, Sanders casting the die for Clinton.
-- With Amanda Fiscina and Mark Chiusano