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Bernie Sanders supporters emboldened after WikiLeaks takes down Debbie Wasserman Schultz

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Bernie Sanders will address the Democratic National Convention on Monday night, with the expectation that he will give a “full-throated’ endorsement of Hillary Clinton to be the next President of the United States.

But from a small sampling of the hundreds of people who gathered at JFK Plaza in downtown Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon is any indication, his most fervent supporters aren’t taking any endorsement from their candidate as a mandate to not follow their conscious.

“I’m voting for my conscious and not out of fear,” said Tara Orlando, from Floyd, Virginia. She seemed to believe, as did several of the protesters that FloridaPolitics.com spoke with, that somehow a Bernie Sanders victory was still in the cards.

“I hope the superdelegates wake up, especially after WikiLeaks has released all those emails to prove that it was hoodwinked,” Orlando said, “and if they want to do the right thing, they’ll nominate Bernie Sanders for the Democratic Party.”

The WikiLeaks revelations have ratified the sentiments that Sanders and certainly his most fervent supporters have felt from very early on in the Democratic primary contest since last summer — that it was rigged for Clinton to ease her way to the nomination.

“It’s more of a vindication of something that we believed all along, and it does feel good when you’ve got people more polarized on either side,” said Moira Gearan, also from Floyd, Virginia. “It may be a done deal, but at least people know that things were DONE.”

“We felt all along that the process was rigged from the beginning, especially the issue with the superdelegates,” said Reuben Matreger from Fenton, Michigan.

Oh yes, the superdelegates, which the Sanders campaign and their supporters abhor as being indicative of a bloated, elitist group of party insiders that is supposed to stop them from nominating an unelectable candidate, a la George McGovern in 1972 and Howard Dean in 2004.

The superdelegates are party insiders — in some cases, members of Congress — and they like it the way it is. But on Saturday, the Democratic Party’s Rules Committee ultimately voted to bring a “minority report” to a floor vote this week. What that apparently means is that the superdelegates do their thing this week and overwhelmingly support Clinton for the nomination, but it could be altered going forward.

Several Democrats in the crowd said that they could not vote for Hillary Clinton under any circumstances. Celeste McKissick from Cleveland held up a sign reading “Hill No.”

“If Bernie is not the nominee, it will be Jill Stein who I’ll vote for,” she said, adding that Clinton hasn’t been able to do anything to “buy” her vote yet, so she doesn’t believe there’s anything she could say or do before November to be persuaded to vote for the Democratic nominee for president.

“I will very likely leave the party,” said Gearan when asked what she’ll do after Clinton accepts the party’s nomination later this week

Long Beach, California resident Dea Montford said she was a lifelong Democrat, and also said she’s leaving the party if Sanders isn’t nominated this week. She said she’s been turned off by Democratic politics after what she said happened in California during that state’s primary election last month. “What they did there to disenfranchise SOOO many people from voting. No, I can’t support the Democratic Party and the DNC and Wasserman Schultz and Hillary? No.”

Sanders addresses the DNC later tonight.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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