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Published: Monday, July 25, 2016 @ 9:56 AM
Updated: Monday, July 25, 2016 @ 11:26 AM
PHILADELPHIA — As Democrats gathered for their national convention, Rep. Marcia Fudge of Cleveland warned today if the party does not unify behind presumptive presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, “we will lose in a way” to Republican Donald Trump that “our country cannot recover from for the rest of my life.”
Fudge, who abruptly was named permanent chair of the convention Sunday following the explosive release of e-mails by Democratic National Committee staffers, said “what is at stake” in the election between Clinton and Trump “is the soul of the nation.”
“People all across the world are afraid of what we’re doing here in the United States,” Fudge said. “They are afraid we that are ready to hand this nation to a person who basically who has no more business in running the country than my eight-year old niece.”
In interviews with reporters and in a brief speech to the Ohio Democratic Party delegation, Fudge urged Democrats to heal the deep divisions caused by the brutal primary campaign between Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont.
What had been hoped to be a unifying convention began with a major eruption following the release by WikiLeaks of thousands of e-mails written by DNC staffers.
Many of those e-mails suggested what Sanders’ supporters suspected – that the DNC had tilted toward Clinton during the primaries. In an effort to soothe growing anger by Sanders’ supporters, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida resigned her post as chairwoman of the party.
To replace her for the week, Democrats tapped Fudge to chair the convention this week, which she called “an honor.”
“I think that Debbie, who is my friend, did what was right, not just for her, but for the party,” Fudge said. “I think that it was a distraction and I think she took the high road.”
Fudge insisted that the vast majority of those who backed Sanders are already lined up behind Clinton, who this week will become the first woman to be nominated for president by a major American political party.
But in a clear sign that she is worried about Sanders’ backers not rallying behind Clinton, Fudge told the delegates “we can’t govern if we can’t win.”