Sen. Boxer: 'If I Didn't Have a Lot of Security, I Don't Know What Would Have Happened'

Susan Jones | May 19, 2016 | 7:31am EDT
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Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders disrupted the Nevada State Democratic Party’s 2016 State Convention at the Paris hotel-casino in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 14, 2016. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

( - Far from the insular world of Congress, out in the wilds of Nevada, Sen. Barbara Boxer, a liberal California Democrat, found herself surrounded on Saturday by snarling fellow liberals who support Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

But unlike some of the ordinary Americans attending Trump rallies, Boxer had a security detail. "Fortunately," she said.

"It was a scary situation," Boxer told CNN on Wednesday. "I was there...It was frightening. I had -- I was on the stage and people were six feet away from me and if I didn't have a lot of security, I don't know what would have happened."

Chaos erupted at the Nevada Democratic Party convention Saturday night, when dozens of Sanders' supporters -- angry at a system that favors the nomination of Hillary Clinton -- threw chairs, shouted down speakers and even made death threats against the state party chairwoman.

Boxer, a Clinton supporter, told CNN she tried to calm the crowd when 50 to 100 Sanders supporters let their frustration boil over: "And I tried very hard to get things under control. I basically told the crowd, you know, that...Bernie and Hillary had asked for civility, and that didn't help.

"I said, 'Bernie is my friend, he's my good friend,' and they still booed. And I said, look, when you -- when you're booing me, you're really booing Bernie because Bernie asked for civility.

"And there was no way to control what was happening. And I did fear for my safety, and I fortunately had a lot of security around me."

Boxer said the only comparison to what happened in Nevada is what happened in Florida when the ballot recount was underway in the contested Bush v. Gore presidential race. "Newt Gingrich had sent a bunch of people over there to boo me down, and I was able to actually talk to them and quieted them down. And so I've never really had anything like this happen."

(The people Boxer was able to calm down presumably were Republicans.)

"But you really did feel threatened, physically threatened?" host Kate Bolduan asked Boxer:

"Well, I said that. I said that to Bernie. I said that publicly. When you have people not listening to a word and angry, their faces red, they -- they were shouting obscenities, you know.  No one threw a chair at me. No one threw any object at me. I had a lot of security...It was a frightening situation. It was not under control.

"And, I mean, what I got was nothing compared to what the Democratic Party chair in Nevada got. And she has gotten vile threats to herself, to her family. This is serious stuff, and this is not what we need going into an election. It is -- there is no place for this in either party, no place for this."

Boxer said she later spoke to Sen. Sanders, and "he was very distressed about it."

"And it was a very warm conversation. And I told him -- he expressed shock that his people would do it. I did tell him the vast majority of those Bernie supporters were sitting in their chairs. They were fine. But there was this group of 50 to 100 people. They were not young people, they were older people and that he ought to check out to see who these people are. And he said he would."

Boxer said she would never tell Sanders to "rein his people in," but she does want him to "take control of his campaign."

She also said that Sanders agreed that the priority must be to keep the other side out of the White House: "And that means supporting Hillary Clinton," Boxer said, adding that "everything we believe in" is at stake.
Boxer refused to say she's worried about violence at the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. "I am actually working to make sure that we're all on the same page. And we will get through this. We will get through this."

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