Tom Harkin Talks The Democratic Party's Unification & What You Probably Don't Realize
Leading into the Democratic National Convention, a question hung over the party: Would it unite behind its nominee, during and after the formal announcement? Months ago, backers of Bernie Sanders have formed their own "Bernie or bust" movement, suggesting that they would not support Hillary Clinton in the case of her nomination. And just ahead of the convention, WikiLeaks released thousands of DNC emails that showed the committee leaning in favor of the Clinton campaign. Even with these complications, former Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin tells Bustle the Democratic Party is more unified than the country might think.
Bustle spoke with Harkin at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia to hear his thoughts on whether the Democrats can come together in support of their nominee, and if the party has ever been so "fractured" during a convention. Harkin spoke at the convention on Tuesday night and delivered remarks on the Americans with Disabilities Act, explaining how Clinton's platform has been inclusive of and progressive for the disability rights movement. In his address, he said, "Only one person seeking the presidency understands the disability community's phrase, 'nothing about us without us.' As president, Hillary Clinton will bring people with disabilities to the table for a more inclusive America."
So when it comes down to the convention and whether the Democratic party could unite behind Clinton as their candidate, Harkin tells Bustle, "We're all going to be behind her. This is going to be a united party when we get out of here."
Clinton has had trouble garnering support from Sanders' backers, some of whom came out to the convention to protest Clinton's candidacy. By the middle of the convention, GOP nominee Donald Trump was leading Clinton in the polls with 44 percent to her 39 percent and the difference was largely due to independent voters' support for Trump.
However, when it came down to the Democrats, Harkin tells Bustle that this convention doesn't necessarily seem more fractured than previous years, noting, "I've been to a lot of conventions and I've seen different forces come together — opposite forces come together."
Even in the wake of the DNC email leaks, Harkin was convinced it wouldn't result in a loss of trust on behalf of Democratic voters. He told Bustle he doesn't see that impacting the party too much, noting it was "proper" for Debbie Wasserman Schultz to step down as the chair.
With the important issue of how Clinton could push for party unity moving forward, Harkin had some words of advice for the candidate. He said, "Having conversations with the American people [is the best thing she can do]. Talk from the heart, talk from the gut, talk from the soul. ... I believe she's got to do that and the more she does, the more people will really see her as the genuine person she is."