Two former Presidential candidates visited the RI delegation at breakfast this morning as the group was still reflecting on the historic nomination of Hillary Clinton. Before Sen. Bernie Sanders stopped by, Gov. Martin O’Malley paid a visit and offered his thoughts on the convention and the need for unity going forward.
“Watching every night of our convention unfold, people have seen a real party, a diverse party, with competing interests, competing ideas, but at the end of the day, people that are very united in our belief that our diversity is our greatest strength,” O’Malley said.
Speaking about the general election, O’Malley said, “Of course we’re concerned. The specter on the other side is a real menace to the country. But the answer to defeating Donald Trump is not to vibrate at his frequency but to vibrate at a higher frequency. I think Dr. King said it well when he said that you can’t drive out hate with hate or violence with violence, only light and love can do that. So let’s make sure we come together in this next 48 hours so that we leave this city of brotherly — and sisterly — love resonating at that level and offering a better vision forward for our country.”
And O’Malley had some words for the Sanders supporters. “To any of you that were involved with Sen. Sanders campaign, congratulations on being able to bring to our party for the fall the most progressive Democratic platform we’ve ever had. It would not have happened were it not for that primary contest, and y’all should be proud too.”
The delegation was still abuzz over the historic nomination of Hillary Clinton as the first woman to lead a major party ticket.
House Speaker Nick Mattielo Mattiello said it was “an honor” to have been part of the nominating process. “I think it will be great for the country to have our first female President. I think she’s very qualified, I think she has a unique perspective, and I think she’s just going to be a great president at the right time. I’m very excited about the process, and I was very appreciative of being able to play a small role in it.”
RI Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed shared that sentiment. “It was great to be a part of last night — and the night before. Michelle Obama’s speech was absolutely what the party needed in terms of unifying the party, bringing the party together. As a woman elected official, I certainly share the excitement that was in that room last night and the possibility of the first woman President.”
Rep. Grace Diaz said that it was a “privilege” to have been part of the process. “History comes to your mind, and you say, ‘I can’t believe it, I’m experiencing this! I’m living this!’ It put tears in my eyes. I’m the first Dominican-American in the history of the United States elected to the state level, and I know the feeling inside — a big responsibility, because you cannot fail. You cannot have the luxury of not accomplishing what you’re supposed to. I think that’s what must be in Hillary’s mind now.”
Said Jamestown Rep. Deborah Ruggiero “It was electrifying. It’s every little girl’s dream. And when they showed every single President, beginning with George Washington and stopping with Obama, and the glass ceiling shattered and there was her face — it was, ‘wow!’ It’s real. And all the little girls sitting around her saying, I may be just the first one, but one of you will be the next one. It was just a great message for women, for boys, for men, for everyone. It’s just where our country needs to go. America is great. We’ve got to keep it great. We’ve got to keep it moving and Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine are going to do that for working people.”
Being part of the delegation, Ruggiero said, was “pretty cool.” She added, “It’s really neat to stand up there and to know that you’re framing part of history. To know that your values are such that you want to see a person who believes in what’s right for working people, making sure that we raise the minimum wage, that we have healthcare for everyone, that we support education, all of those values are Democratic values. And to be able to be there to nominate not only the right candidate, but the smartest candidate, the hardest-working candidate, with the most heart, who just happens to be a woman.”
Former representative and gubernatorial candidate Myrth York agreed with the sense of history the delegation had just witnessed. “It was incredibly exciting. And I know the historic significance of it, and the work is still to be done, it’s one step forward, but even just on a personal level, for her, and having just a tiny sense of what she’s done and committed to to make this happen is extraordinary. The glass cracking? It was hokey, but it was fabulous. I didn’t see it coming, I just thought there would be her photo next. That was a brilliant piece of stagecraft.”