SALT LAKE CITY — Before Hillary Clinton's big night, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was cheered Thursday by delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia from Utah and five other states when he urged them to defeat Donald Trump and elect Clinton.
"In the next few months, we have a very, very important task. Our task is to make sure that this country does not elect the worst presidential candidate in modern history, Donald Trump," Sanders said at a delegate breakfast in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
His comments came hours before the four-day convention ended with the former secretary of state, senator and first lady's acceptance speech as the first woman nominated to run for president by a major political party.
"I'm very much on board with Bernie saying we've got to support Hillary and not let Trump get elected," Utah Sanders delegate Neil Hansen said. "You lose a battle, you've still got to be a team player. You've got to have faith."
Sanders, who won Utah's presidential preference caucus vote in March with nearly 80 percent of the vote, won over at least some of the delegates who had doubts about Clinton, Utah Democratic Party Chairman Peter Corroon said.
"We still have a few holdouts, but I think most of our delegates will rally around Hillary Clinton," said Corroon, a superdelegate who backed Sanders. "He's such a class act. He's still fired up about the issues that he cares about."
Sanders said his concerns about Trump, the billionaire businessman formally nominated by the Republicans last week, go beyond his plans to offer tax breaks and ignore climate change.
"My fear about Donald Trump is that he is a demagogue who does not believe in the Constitution of the United States and who is making the cornerstone of his campaign not economics, not health, but bigotry and hatred," Sanders said.
He said Trump is trying to divide the country over religion, gender and heritage and, by questioning whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States, "trying to undermine the legitimacy of the first African-American president."
"So we have to do everything we can to defeat Trump and elect Secretary Clinton to be our next president," the independent who describes himself as a Democratic socialist said to cheers and applause.
Sanders, who won 29 of Utah's 37 delegates, made two appearances in Utah in March that attracted huge crowds. Clinton was the only major candidate in the race who did not come to Utah in the days leading up to the caucus vote.
He noted he did well in the states represented at the breakfast meeting — Hawaii, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and West Virginia — and joked they were all staying so far away from Philadelphia because of their support for him.
Much of his speech, posted on the Utah State Democratic Party Facebook page, focused on his campaign themes, including the need to confront the "corporate greed" behind the money that funds campaigns.
"The political revolution continues," Sanders assured them in a speech frequently interrupted with applause. "Politics is more than just electing an individual. It's creating a movement and transforming society."
Sanders has endorsed Clinton and urged his supporters to vote for her in his convention speech on Monday. Thursday, he told the delegates from the six states that their work is not done after they vote for Clinton in November.
"The day after the election is as important as the day before the election," he said. "That means we keep our eyes on the prize and the prize is transforming America" through an agenda that includes establishing a single-payer healthcare system.
The audience responded by chanting, "Thank you, Bernie."
Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, a Sanders delegate, said she left the breakfast motivated not only to support Clinton as her party's nominee, but also to continue to work for issues she believes in.
"I think he did an excellent job today reminding people why we're Democrats," Romero said. "I'm a true believer in the ideology of Sen. Sanders and where he wants to see us go as a country."
She said the majority of Sanders' supporters "know what's at stake" and will vote for Clinton in November because they want to see a Democrat in the White House — and don't want Trump.
For Romero, seeing Clinton become the party's nominee was a historic moment.
"I'm happy to be part of it, to see the first woman nominee," she said. "It shows how far we've come as a country. But it doesn't mean we can't go further."