If the mood of the Vermont delegation is any indication, then Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention Thursday night played all right with Bernie Sanders supporters who have until now been skeptical of her candidacy.
All of Vermont’s 16 pledged delegates arrived in Philadelphia this week prepared to support Sanders, who won 86 percent of the primary vote back in March. Even after Clinton formally clinched the nomination Tuesday night, many Vermonters here expressed reluctance to embrace her candidacy fully.
But even some of Clinton’s most critical detractors say her address hit the right notes. White River Junction resident Noah Detzer was among the delegates who walked out of the convention in protest of Clinton’s nomination Tuesday.
“I’m not saying I buy in yet," Detzer said after the speech, as red, white and blue balloons fell from the rafters of the Wells Fargo Center. “But I’m just saying, OK, it looks like we’re taking baby steps.”
Clinton praised “Bernie” by name early in her speech, saying Sanders’ primary campaign “put economic and social justice issues front and center where they belong.”
“And to all of your supporters here and around the country, I want you to know: I’ve heard you. Your cause is our cause,” Clinton said.
Clinton proceeded to call for higher taxes on corporate profits and the wealthy to pay for subsidized college tuition, paid family leave and health care.
Matt Birong, a delegate from Vergennes, had this reaction: “Well, a lot of what I heard is what I’ve been hearing out of Berne for the last eight months. So as long as she stays committed to it, I guess I’m OK with it.”
Vermont Democratic Party Chairwoman Dottie Deans was more effusive.
“Hallelujah, you know? Look at this,” Deans said, gesturing toward the spectacle of fireworks, balloons and music unfolding in the Wells Fargo Center after Clinton’s speech. "This is a celebration. Hillary Rodham Clinton was awesome.”
Clinton still faces intense opposition from a segment of the Sanders constituency. About 150 DNC delegates, Detzer among them, wore yellow “Enough is Enough” T-shirts to signal their concern with Clinton’s nomination.
They attempted to disrupt Clinton’s speech at various points during her address. The overwhelmingly pro-Clinton crowd drowned out the protests by countering with arena-wide chants of “Hillary, Hillary.”