Bernie Sanders has urged Democrats to put Hillary Clinton in the White House, in a speech to the party convention. The Vermont senator received a three-minute standing ovation when he took the stage in Philadelphia.
“Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States,” he said as the crowd erupted in cheers.
Earlier in the evening, his fans had booed any mention of Hillary Clinton, who will accept the party’s presidential nomination on Thursday.
And as he implored them to back his Democratic rival in the final major speech of the night, they held aloft their blue “Bernie” signs and chanted his name.
Some supporters broke into tears while others wore duct tape emblazoned with the words “silenced” or “silenced by the DNC” over their mouths.
“While Donald Trump is busy insulting one group after another, Hillary Clinton understands that our diversity is one of our greatest strengths,” Mr Sanders continued.
“If you don’t believe this election is important, if you think you can sit it out, take a moment to think about the Supreme Court justices that Donald Trump would nominate and what that would mean to civil liberties, equal rights and the future of our country,” he said.
In other highlights on Monday:
- Loudest cheer of the night went to New Jersey Senator Cory Booker when he told the crowd: “In America, love always trumps hate”
- First Lady Michelle Obama was given a rapturous reception after delivering a moving speech with several references to Republican Donald Trump
- She said: “When someone is cruel or acts like a bully, we don’t stoop to their level.”
- Senator Elizabeth Warren attacked the business record of Republican Donald Trump
- Comedian Sarah Silverman, who supported Mr Sanders, told his supporters to get behind Mrs Clinton
Members of the audience had earlier disrupted the event’s opening prayer, chanting “Bernie!” while also jeering as DNC Chair Marcia Fudge delivered remarks.
Mr Sanders sent an email saying the credibility of the progressive movement would be damaged by “booing, turning of backs, walking out or other similar displays” of protests.
Revelations from an email leak which showed DNC officials allegedly plotted against Mr Sanders’ primary campaign appeared to overshadow any sentiment of party unity as the event commenced.
Wikileaks released emails that revealed the DNC was biased against Mr Sanders when he ran against Mrs Clinton in the hard-fought primary contest.
The FBI has confirmed that it is investigating the leak.
Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned on Sunday as pressure built on the party to address the scandal. The outgoing chair said on Monday she would no longer be speaking at the opening of the convention.
Democratic party bosses later issued an apology to Mr Sanders for “inexcusable” emails which tried to undermine his White House campaign.
But Mr Sanders refused to let the email scandal eclipse his message to his supporters.
“Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president and I am proud to stand with her here tonight,” he said before he left the stage.
About 5,000 party delegates are among the 50,000 people expected to attend the four-day convention, which will end on Thursday with Mrs Clinton formally accepting the nomination for president.
Analysis: Anthony Zurcher,
Democrats were hoping that a cohesive convention would draw a sharp contrast with the sometimes chaotic Republican gathering last week. Bernie Sanders, who recently endorsed Hillary Clinton, will reportedly do his part, calling for party unity in his convention address.
For the moment, however, many of the senator’s delegates aren’t playing ball. Thanks to hacked emails showing Democratic Party operatives privately manoeuvring against Mr Sanders during the primaries and Mrs Clinton’s selection of Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, a moderate, as her running mate, there’s considerable anger among rank-and-file progressives in Philadelphia.
That frustration has already manifested itself in boos for outgoing Democratic Committee head Debbie Wasserman Schultz, protest marches, a contemplated walkout by some Sanders delegates during Mrs Clinton’s Thursday night speech and possibly even the formal nomination of a more liberal alternative to Mr Kaine on Tuesday.
If any such events transpire, it could seriously undermine Mrs Clinton’s efforts to defeat Donald Trump, who is already doing his best to foment Democratic discord.
Mr Sanders may join the pro-Clinton chorus, but as one Sanders delegate said on Monday, the movement he led is now bigger than him and, even if he falters, it will continue without him, party unity be damned.