One bit of side drama at the Democratic National Convention this week has been the exclusion of former Ohio State Senator and vocal Bernie Sanders surrogate Nina Turner from the speaking schedule, which was revealed to Turner by Senator Sanders himself, apparently without explanation. Turner was supposed to have given a speech when Sanders’ name was put into nomination Tuesday night, but Sanders told her that day that the Clinton campaign did not want her onstage. The flap was at first misreported as Senator Turner being ejected entirely from the convention.
At a Wednesday press conference, a cadre of Sanders’ celebrity supporters held a press conference to stand in solidarity with Turner, and one reporter asked Oscar winner and vocal Sanders booster if Turner was excluded by the DNC because “she’s such a vocal black woman,” and while Sarandon tried to resist saying “anything bad,” she wound up conceding the possibility:
Well, we’re supposed to be trying for unity here, so I don’t want to say anything bad, but that certainly didn’t help.
Turner says that she was given no reason for her exclusion, and in an interview with Mother Jones, refused to say whether Sanders fought for her inclusion:
Turner said that prior to Tuesday she had been asked by Sanders to be part of the nominating and seconding speeches for Sanders before the roll-call vote on Tuesday. “I was told it was going to be me and Tulsi,” she said, referring to Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), another top Sanders supporter. But when she arrived at the convention on Tuesday afternoon, she saw that nobody from the Democratic Party was there to greet her or help her prepare for her appearance. She then heard from Sanders: The Clinton campaign did not want her on the stage.
Why? “No reason was given,” Turner said. Was it because she might not have been willing to endorse Clinton? Again, she said, “No reason was given.” She said she still doesn’t know exactly what happened. She noted that she had not submitted any prepared text to the convention managers and had not spoken to them about her remarks. She said she had arrived with the expectation she would be on the stage to nominate Sanders or second his nomination.
What about Sanders? Did he resist or push back against the Clinton campaign on her behalf? “Sen. Sanders is in a difficult position,” she said. “I don’t know. I don’t want to say.”
It’s worth noting that the Democrats crammed more star power into a press conference in a tent for their losing candidate (which featured Sarandon, Danny Glover, Rosario Dawson, and Shailene Woodley) than the RNC managed at their entire convention (which featured Chachi and Antonio Sabato Jr.).
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