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It was supposed to be a unity trip. US Senator Bernie Sanders and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez hit the road to red and blue states, crisscrossing the country to show off the party's big tent and kumbaya philosophy as it rebuilds in the wake of a historic presidential defeat.
But like most road trips, there have been some bumps along the way. Several things have not gone according to plan as the party continues to grapple with its growing pains:
-- Before the tour kicked off in Maine this week, there was already tension between the DNC and Sanders' team about sharing data from people who have RSVP'd.
-- During the first event in Maine, the Democratic party was essentially jeered. The woman who introduced Perez said this: “Maybe you came through because you are curious about the new DNC chairman and the future of Democratic politics?” The crowd booed. Yes, the crowd attending a DNC event aimed at Democratic Party unity booed its new chairman.
-- In a joint interview with MSNBC on Wednesday, Sanders repeatedly said he was not a Democrat and didn’t have any plans to join the party. Sanders said,"I am an independent," as Perez sat next to him.
-- What's the one sure thing that unites Democrats these days? Their opposition to Trump. But Sanders repeated his line that President Trump “did not win the election; the Democrats lost the election.” Hillary Clinton supporters -- a large portion of the Democratic Party -- were not pleased.
-- Perez's delivery has raised some eyebrows. Give the new chairman points for traveling the country and speaking to progressive audiences who are skeptical of the Democratic Party. But after Perez was booed in Maine, he began cursing in his speeches, perhaps as a way to show he is just as mad as the party's base. And then he kept cursing.
-- In the wake of a special election in Georgia, the Wall Street Journal asked Sanders if the party's leading Democrat in that race, Jon Ossoff, was progressive. Sanders replied: “I don’t know.” This prompted one Daily Kos organizer to tweet, “Bernie Sanders isn't helping—he's hurting. He should either endorse Ossoff and raise money for him, or keep his silence.”
-- Then, as planned by the DNC, DNC Vice Chairman Keith Ellison filled in for a night with Sanders in Nebraska. Part of the point of the event was to boost a Sanders supporter who is now running for Omaha mayor. The issue: this candidate opposes abortion rights. As you can imagine, abortion rights groups pushed back.
-- At the end of the rally in Miami, which otherwise went well, Sanders and Perez shook hands with the crowd. Then one person yelled “Bernie would have won.” When the crowd reacted, organizers changed the song and turned up the volume.
The tour moves on Friday to a couple of Republican-friendly states, Utah and Arizona. We’ll see how that goes.