PHILADELPHIA - Sen. Bernie Sanders' surprise appearance before the New York delegation Tuesday proved to be an emotional moment for his Western New York supporters, who nevertheless remain divided over whether to follow his lead and actively support Hillary Clinton for president.
About a half dozen Sanders delegates from Buffalo, seated at the far left front of the ballroom, stood and cheered as Sanders arrived Tuesday morning. Some broadcast his speech on Facebook Live, and all listened intently as he repeated his call for a political revolution and the election of Clinton, his onetime rival, to the White House.
"It meant a lot" for him to visit the New York delegation, said Carol Przybylak, a Sanders delegate from Sloan. "It was good to see him again."
Local Sanders delegates have now heard the Vermont senator speak three times within 24 hours, and Kathryn Regan Eskew, a delegate from Orchard Park, said they were aware that Sanders planned an appearance at the breakfast at the Loews Philadelphia - even though that appearance was not publicly announced.
Sanders largely repeated the points he made to delegates in his two speeches Monday, and as the Tuesday breakfast began, the local delegates said they respected what he said even though some were largely unmoved by his calls to support Clinton.
"His remarks were as expected," said Brian Nowak, the founder of Buffalo for Bernie, who has previously said he's not yet ready to declare his support for Clinton. "I don't feel any different afterwards."
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Nowak acknowledged that some of the New York Sanders delegates booed when they heard Clinton's name mentioned early in the convention session Monday, although the booing subsided during and after First Lady Michelle Obama's much-praised prime-time speech.
Chuck Hess of Arcade was among the Sanders delegates booing earlier.
"I'm still Bernie Sanders all the way," Hess said.
Meanwhile, Kate Miller of Hamburg said her future actions depend on the Democratic Party and its behavior in the coming months, and whether it pays attention to the concerns the Sanders movement has raised.
But Miller didn't boo. "I'm not a Hillary hater," said Miller, adding that she was glad Sanders highlighted the progress his movement had made throughout the campaign.
As some Sanders supporters continued to contemplate how long to hold out before deciding whether or if to back Clinton, backers of the former secretary of state and New York senator stressed that the tension in Wells Fargo Arena seemed to subside as Monday evening progressed.
"I don't think the booing was as loud in the New York delegation as it was in the other delegations." said Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes of Buffalo, who agreed that the booing ebbed once the First Lady took the stage.
"That was the best speech I've ever heard," and it changed the mood of the convention immediately, Peoples-Stokes said.
Still, Peoples-Stokes said she was disappointed that Sanders supporters booed the mention of Clinton's name in the first place, and Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said he was especially disappointed to hear boos during the invocation.
He said Sanders supporters have to realize that now that the primary season is over, progressives must turn to an urgent goal: defeating Republican Donald Trump.
"They have to understand that the alternative is supporting the antithesis of everything we believe it," Poloncarz said.