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Sanders calls for supporters to rally behind Clinton at DNC

Joe Raedle / Getty Images North America / AFP | Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Vanquished White House hopeful Bernie Sanders on Monday told a riven and lively Democratic convention that his rival Hillary Clinton must win the US presidential election in November.

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To cheers and some boos, Sanders said that "based on her ideas and her leadership," Clinton was a better choice than Republican nominee Donald Trump and that she "must become the next president of the United States".

"The choice is not even close," Sanders was to say, according to his prepared remarks released to reporters. But he stopped mid-sentence when he addressed the convention, as his supporters cheered.

"This election is about which candidate understands the real problems facing this country and has offered real solutions -- not just bombast, not just fear-mongering, not just name-calling and divisiveness," Sanders, 74, told the convention in a lengthy speech in which he highlighted some of the accomplishments of his insurgent campaign.

The endorsement was expected, and had already come from Sanders weeks ago when he campaigned alongside Clinton in New Hampshire.

But it appeared aimed in part to help quell the loud voices of Sanders supporters who had spent much of the day booing and shouting out their opposition to speakers as they expressed support for Clinton.

That mission was not thoroughly accomplished, however.

When Sanders closed his speech by saying "Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president, and I am proud to stand with her tonight," a smattering of loud boos was heard among the applause.

Sanders DNC extract

Sanders stunned the political world when his campaign, which began as a fringe effort by a self-described democratic socialist, earned broad grassroots support and gave Clinton a run for her money.

It became clear a few months after the primaries began that Clinton's momentum would carry her through to the nomination.

But Sanders's impressive showing helped him push through the most progressive Democratic Party platform in generations.

"Our job now is to see that platform implemented by a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House and a Hillary Clinton presidency -- and I am going to do all that I can to make that happen," Sanders said.

Throughout the campaign, Trump had said Sanders was being swept aside by a "rigged" system, but the brash billionaire accused Sanders of capitulating on Monday.

"Bernie Sanders totally sold out to Crooked Hillary Clinton," Trump tweeted before Sanders had finished speaking.

"All of that work, energy and money, and nothing to show for it! Waste of time."

First ladies

As polls showed Trump ahead of Clinton in the race to the White House, the former first lady received the heartfelt endorsement of America's current first lady, Michelle Obama, who wowed the Philadelphia crowd as she impeached Trump's behavior and hailed the inspirational power of possibly having a first female US president.

Michelle Obama's message was at once conciliatory, raw and personal -- and earned by far the most positive response of the night.

"Because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all of our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States," said the wife of America's first black president, her voice cracking with emotion.

The outgoing first lady reminisced about her two "bubbly little girls" Sasha and Malia as they entered the White House, and how they are leaving it as "poised young women."

Michelle Obama extract from DNC

But -- in a thinly veiled jab at Trump -- she also painted a picture of a family that had to struggle with the shrill tone of today's zero-sum politics.

"We urge them to ignore those who question their father's citizenship or faith," she said, a clear reference to Trump's early demands to see President Barack Obama's birth certificate.

"We insist that the hateful language they hear from public figures on TV does not represent the true spirit of this country," the first lady said in a message that Democrats will hope resonates with fathers and mothers voting in November.

"Our motto is, 'when they go low, we go high.'"

Obama did not always have easy relations with Team Clinton during the 2008 primary race. But she lauded the former first lady for not getting angry when she lost to Barack Obama that year.

"Hillary did not pack up and go home. Because as a true public servant, Hillary knows that this is so much bigger than her own desires and disappointments," she said.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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