PHILADELPHIA — The heat index was 107 degrees.

But it must have felt even hotter Monday for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who was forced to duck out of an event by Bernie Sanders protesters just hours before taking center stage at the Democratic National Convention.

It was indeed night and day for Malloy, a strident messenger for Hillary Clinton and the head of the Democratic Governors Association, who was part of the convention’s opening lineup of speakers.

Malloy never mentioned Sanders when the white-hot spotlight of the moment shined on him in the air-conditioned confines of the Wells Fargo Arena.

The second-term governor instead went full bore against Republican Donald Trump and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, with whom Malloy has developed a rivalry over gay marriage, the Syrian refugee crisis and whose state is better for business.

“You name ’em, Donald Trump has bullied them,” Malloy said. “I know something about bullies. And I know why we must stand up to them.”

Sticking up for Democrats

Malloy’s latest performance on the national political stage followed the resignation Sunday of Debbie Wasserman Schultz as the head of the Democratic National Committee, who email leaks showed tried to undermine the insurgent candidacy of Sanders. It coincided with the highly anticipated primetime keynote of Sanders on Monday night.

Malloy opened with a familiar anecdote about his childhood struggle with a learning disability and his rise through the ranks of Democratic governors.

“A child thought to be — as the term was used in the early 1960s — ‘mentally retarded’ as late as the fourth grade. A boy who could not tie his shoe or button his shirt, until the fifth grade,” Malloy said. “It’s an American story. Our communities are bound by the shared understanding that we are stronger together. That we need to lift up our brothers and sisters, and ignore the shouts and taunts of bullies amongst us. That is one reason why I am a Democrat.”

A contingent from Connecticut — their allegiances split between Clinton and Sanders — mostly cheered Malloy from the lower bowl of the 19,500-seat arena, including Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy.

“I understand Sen. Sanders’ supporters are upset,” said Michael Cacace, a DNC member and Clinton superdelegate from Stamford. “I think what’s come to light the last few days is embarrassing. I expect the frustration to be shown a little bit tonight.”

Some Sanders delegates didn’t even feign interest in Malloy’s message, checking their smartphones and sitting silently. They didn’t boo, as some Clinton delegates had privately worried before Malloy’s speech.

“I think Gov. Malloy is not an appropriate leader for the Democratic Party for the future,” said Justin Molito, a Sanders delegate from Sherman.

Earlier in the day, Malloy had just finished a speaking engagement for the think tank Democrats for Education Reform, when a procession of Sanders protesters choked Broad Street outside the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.

Malloy’s security detail — plainclothes state troopers — advised the governor that the protesters were coming and it was time to leave. Malloy was ushered down a hallway of the concert hall.

Malloy’s staff said they were concerned the governor would be boxed in because of the protesters and would be late to other appointments, including a Washington Post panel discussion on criminal justice reform.

“I could see why he would want to get out of here,” said Murphy, who briefly exchanged greetings with Malloy.

Former sate Rep. Susan Barrett, a Clinton delegate from Fairfield, lamented the turmoil. Sanders supporters, she said, need to respect his endorsement of Clinton and not go rogue.

“I think there are some people that are so passionate about the movement that they forgot that Bernie is the leader of the pack,” Barrett said.

Before Malloy took the stage, delegates on both sides of the political divide from his home state openly debated elements of the Democratic platform and the progressive credentials of party leaders.

Malloy served as co-chairman of the national party’s platform committee, a role that Sanders wanted Connecticut’s governor removed from in May because of Malloy’s allegiance to Clinton.

Nina Sherwood, of Stamford, said the Clinton establishment wing of the party is taking the support of the Sanders faithful for granted.

“It’s nobody’s fault but Hillary’s,” Sherwood said. “The Democratic Party is supposed to be democratic. It’s been stacking the deck against votes, against people, against democracy.”

‘Not gonna miss a beat’

Malloy downplayed the schism during an interview just moments before he was whisked away from his first speaking appearance of the day. He said he respected Schultz’s decision.

“We’re not going to miss a beat,” Malloy said in an interview earlier in the day. “Listen, the person I supported for president is going to be the nominee on Thursday night, so I feel good about that.”

Rated among the most liberal governors in the nation, Malloy watched his progressive credentials come under assault from the left during a bruising primary campaign. His speaking slot Monday was an opportunity for the former Stamford mayor to burnish his resume within the party.

Under his leadership, he said, Connecticut has raised its minimum wage, added 100,000 jobs, passed comprehensive gun-control legislation after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and ushered in criminal justice reform.

“In Washington, D.C., Republicans will block any innovative idea that has the scarlet letter ‘D’ for Democrat next to it,” Malloy said. “But in the states run by Democratic governors, we’re about solving problems.”

State Republican Party Chairman J.R. Romano said the bar set by Malloy for Democrats is low.

“Dan Malloy demonstrates how out of touch he is,” Romano said. “He is one of the biggest failures in the country. Democrats live in a fantasy land where the rules don't apply and that they’re successful. The truth is, you cannot point to a single success of Hillary Clinton or Dan Malloy.”

Francisco Gonzalez, a Clinton delegate from Greenwich and member of Clinton’s national finance committee, said Democrats have more common values than Republicans.

“We’re here to come together,” Gonzalez said.; 203-625-4436;