PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Yes, Bernie Sanders told his supporters, they had built something together: a campaign that went further than naysayers expected, a movement that shifted the party to the left, evidence that a political message can still resonate without a well-funded super PAC.
But it was time to move on.
On Tuesday, Sanders broke the hearts of many of his New Hampshire supporters, who seemed to not want to see the revolution end. Months after it was clear that Hillary Clinton would be the presumptive Democratic nominee, Sanders endorsed her candidacy at Portsmouth High School, and the party attempted to forge a political union between their supporters.
In 2004, many liberal activists had, as one bumper sticker suggested, “Dated Dean, Married Kerry” — a reference to Howard Dean, an insurgent progressive candidate, and John Kerry, the eventual nominee. But in this presidential primary, many New Hampshire voters expressed a different notion: They dated Sanders, and now they feel they have been left at the altar.
“Absolutely, I am disappointed and heartbroken,” said David Weeda, a Sanders delegate from Maine to the Democratic National Convention. “He can do this if he wants, but I am going to still fight for his cause. He was the first person in my 35 years of activism who was speaking for me.”
And so when the moment came, in a gymnasium filled with 3,000 people, many of Sanders’ backers did not hold their peace. Jilted supporters brought signs, T-shirts, and stickers to cheer a Sanders campaign that for all purposes had already come to a close.
When Governor Maggie Hassan, a Clinton supporter, warmed up the crowd, she was often shouted down with chants of “Bernie, Bernie,” “Black Lives Matter,” and “No TPP.”
During his turn at the podium, Sanders explained his long-awaited endorsement, saying “I have come here today not to talk about the past but to focus on the future.”
But as he continued to talk, roughly 40 of his supporters walked out.
When Clinton spoke, a few more Sanders supporters left for the outside, waving goodbye and wearing “Still Sanders” T-shirts. One Sanders supporter stood facing away from Clinton, holding a “Bernie” sign over the back of his head. (As a result, that Sanders supporter faced a much larger sign that read “Stronger Together.”)
For many Sanders supporters, the rally marked the end of a long campaign. But much had changed in the five months since Sanders defeated Clinton in the New Hampshire primary by 22 points, propelling him to victory in many subsequent nominating contests.
Sanders posted an impressive record in the primary, winning nearly two dozen states, but it was not enough to overcome Clinton’s advantages. Still, some Sanders supporters walked out of the rally in disbelief of the inevitable.
Gale Bailey, 52, of Rochester, said she was stunned that Sanders endorsed Clinton.
“He’s thrown in the towel, and I don’t know what to do. Quite frankly, I feel like crying,” she said, shaking her head.Globe correspondent Meg Bernhard contributed to this report. James Pindell
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