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Rough start for Dems' convention but the party's hopeful it won't be GOP repeat

PHILADELPHIA — The Democratic convention began just as badly as the Republican one.

Instead of using the entire weekend to extol the virtues of new running mate Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton and her aides were forced to react to the flaws of the Democratic Party chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Specifically, they were thrown off balance by leaked emails showing that Democratic National Committee staffers had, in fact, favored Clinton over her Democratic socialist challenger Bernie Sanders — something Wasserman Schultz had previously denied.

Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in Philadelphia on July 24, 2016.
Nicholas Kamm | AFP | Getty Images
Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in Philadelphia on July 24, 2016.

The saving grace for the presumptive Democratic nominee was twofold.

First, her campaign acted quickly to force Wasserman Schultz to step down from the DNC chair — as Sanders has long demanded — effective at the end of the convention. That reduced the chances that his supporters would disrupt proceedings inside the convention hall this week.

Second, her chief rival made clear that he would not stage a repeat of what Ted Cruz did to Donald Trump last week — delivering a prime time speech in which he declined to endorse his party's presidential candidate. Sanders said the emails had not shaken his support for Clinton.

"No, no, no," the Vermont senator said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday. "Right now what we have got to focus on as Democrats is defeating perhaps the worst Republican candidate that I have seen in my lifetime.

"Donald Trump would be a disaster for this country," Sanders continued. "He must be defeated. We've got to elect Secretary Clinton."

Sanders addresses the convention Monday night, where he'll have the chance to unite the party by repeating that exhortation to Democrats nationwide. So will Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, another populist firebrand with strong appeal on the Democratic left.

Their speeches will be sandwiched around an address by first lady Michelle Obama. The result, the Clinton campaign hopes, will be a rebound from their rocky weekend start.