Massachusetts Democrats gear up for star turns at convention


BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts is gearing up for an outsized role when Democrats gather in Philadelphia this week for their national convention.

A boatload of public officials in the heavily Democratic state — including the entire congressional delegation and several statewide elected officials— are slated to attend the gathering. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Congressman Joe Kennedy and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh are expected to address the convention crowds.

Kennedy, the grandson of Robert Kennedy and great-nephew of President John F. Kennedy, is expected to have a speaking slot sometime on Monday ahead of a planned speech by Warren. Democrat Hillary Clinton has leaned on Warren to help whip up the party’s liberal base as she prepares to officially accept her party’s presidential nomination this week before heading into the general election campaign full force.

Kennedy said the country needs the long years of experience Clinton can bring to the White House.

“People … are concerned about all the challenges that our country faces, both domestically and abroad, and are looking for a strong, steady hand to guide us through some tumultuous times,” Kennedy said. “Secretary Clinton is going to be that hand and I look forward to making that case for her.”

Kennedy said he hadn’t seen much of the Republican convention, but added “if the Trump administration is going to run a country they way that they have run a convention, we are all in very deep trouble.”

Many Bay State supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are also attending the convention as delegates, including Andrea Burns. Clinton only narrowly beat Sanders in the Massachusetts presidential primary.

The 47-year-old Boston resident campaigned for Sanders in five states.

“I was definitely disappointed, but it was a long shot and he got a lot farther than anyone expected he would get,” said Burns, who works for the city’s elderly commission.

Like so many other Sanders’ supporters, Burns said she’s now faced with the prospect of lining up behind Clinton. She said that’s tough, even after Sanders officially endorsed Clinton.

“He did what he needed to do for the good of the country and he took one for the team,” she said. “I imagine I will be voting for Secretary Clinton, but it’s not going to be easy and I’m not emotionally there yet.”

Nazda Alam has no such struggle when it comes to supporting Clinton.

Alam came to the United States from Bangladesh as a student in 1982 and settled in Massachusetts four years later with her husband. She has been a loyal Democrat after registering to vote the day after she became a citizen in 1993.

Alam supported Clinton in 2008 and again this campaign.

Alam pointed to Bangladesh, a poor country with a Muslim population of more than 90 percent, where both the prime minister and opposition leader are women. She said it’s past time for the United States to follow suit and elect Clinton.

“She is the most experienced presidential candidates on the planet, not just in the United States,” said Alam, a 59-year-old state employee who lives in Weston.

As a Muslim, Alam said she’s also concerned about Donald Trump’s call to ban non-citizen Muslims from entering the country.

“That’s very threatening and it’s very dangerous and very undemocratic,” said Alam, who said she raised her two children, now grown, with both American and Muslim values. She is currently working to register other American Muslims to vote, especially in swing states.

Steve Grossman is another longtime Clinton supporter.

The former Massachusetts state treasurer served as head of the Democratic National Committee from 1997 to 1999, helping navigate through the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Grossman said he’s hoping to hear something in Philadelphia that he hasn’t heard in Cleveland — a vision for the country’s future.

“Elections to me are about the future and Hillary will talk about the kind of future she will imagine about a country that includes everyone and leaves no one behind,” Grossman said.

Grossman said he’s confident that when undecided voters compare the two conventions, they will ultimately embrace Clinton.

“The prospect of the alternative is frightening,” he said.

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