PHILADELPHIA — Both of Robeson County’s delegates to the Democratic National Convention say that despite getting off to a rocky start because of email leaks that resulted in the resignation of the party’s national chairman, Democrats will be strong and united behind presidential nominee Hillary Clinton when they leave the convention at the end of the week.
Caroline Sumpter, the mayor pro-tem of Red Springs, said that in spite of the “so-called scandal” she believes her party is “growing stronger every day.”
“The speakers Monday brought unity to both campaigns. We are now focusing on November the way we should and growing stronger every day,” Sumpter said on Tuesday. “Yes, we have our challenges and there are hiccups along the way. But that is what happens with any organization.”
The public during the weekend got to look at DNC emails posted online via WikiLeaks, some of which suggested party officials had favored Clinton over rival Bernie Sanders during the primaries. Sanders supporters, according to news accounts, are irate because the emails confirmed suspicions the party had favored Clinton all along.
Party officials are supposed to stay neutral and not show preference to any one candidate. As a result of the leaks, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned.
It’s still not clear how WikiLeaks got the emails. Some say it was the Russians who leaked the information. According to reports, Democrats have known about the Russians supposedly hacking their computers since April when party officials discovered malicious software on their computers.
The release of the emails intensified protests at this week’s convention in Philadelphia among ardent Sanders supporters who disrupted Monday’s speeches at the convention, booing at the mention of Clinton’s name. Sanders urged his supporters to rally behind Clinton.
Among the leaked emails is correspondence showing DNC staffers discussing creating a negative narrative about Sanders, asking hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to cease coverage critical of the DNC’s treatment of Sanders, and apparently planning to publicly call Sanders’ religious faith into question.
Sumpter said that she supports the Democratic National Committee in the way it handled the controversy over the release of the emails.
“I think the chairman resigning and the committee accepting her resignation was the right thing to do,” said Sumpter.
Larry Townsend, an alternate delegate from Pembroke and a current member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina Tribal Council, agrees with Sumpter that Wasserman Schultz did the right thing by resigning.
“She should resign if she was showing a preference to Hillary,” said Townsend, a delegate who has pledged his support to Clinton. “It is wrong for the DNC to take sides and support any candidate.”
Townsend also said that he believes a majority of the Democratic Party will be united when the convention concludes on Thursday. He predicts that most of those still supporting Sanders for the Democratic nomination will see the importance of throwing support behind Clinton if Republican Donald Trump is to be defeated in November.
“There is much more at stake than just a candidate. It’s all about values. The direction that the world will take is at stake,” Townsend said. “In the end, we will all have to ask ourselves whether we want to see Hillary as president or Donald Trump.”
President Barack Obama is set to take the convention stage tonight.