Local Sanders Supporters Not Sure on Backing Clinton

Photo credit: Variety.com

Former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders visited the Twin Cities and the Duluth areas on Tuesday, campaigning for Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. However, local Sanders supporters are not fully sold on backing Clinton.

At the caucuses in March, Minnesotans strongly backed Sanders and many of his supporters have been hesitant to embrace the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. Sanders won the Minnesota Democrat caucus with a double-digit lead over Clinton.

The Duluth News Tribune asked those who attended Tuesday’s Sanders event if they are ready to put their full support behind Clinton, or are they still supporting the senator from Vermont?

Andrea Debungie, 33, attended the rally with her family at the University of Minnesota at Duluth.  Debungie told the Duluth News Tribune that she was previously a Bernie supporter, “I was undecided if I was going to vote.  Seeing him here does encourage me to vote for (Clinton).”  But after a half hour of Sanders portraying Clinton as a candidate similar to himself on progressive policies, Debungie was still not ready to fully commit to Clinton.  After the rally, Debungie was swayed but not fully decided on how to use her vote, but she admitted that she would not vote for Trump.

“It’s hard to vote against someone,” she told the News Tribune. “I’d love to use that vote for Bernie Sanders.”

Simon Puder, a 26 year-old Northland College student came from Ashland to hear Sanders speak.  Puder told the News Tribune, “He definitely made a strong argument.  I’m fairly sure I’m going to vote for Clinton.  I also believe I should vote for my ideals and values.”

“I’m more for Bernie than Hillary, but Hillary’s better than Trump,” said recent UMD graduate Josh Muhich, 23.

Clare Ford, 52, of Duluth said, “I’m hoping Bernie can convince me to vote for her.”

Mary Rehwald, 73, of Ashland said, “I was a strong Bernie supporter; I think he’s the strongest candidate,” but added she would have no problem voting for Hillary Clinton.

The News Tribune reported that during Sanders’ speech, the cheers and jeers of the crowd against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump were at times louder than Sanders’ endorsement of Clinton.

A statement from the Minnesota Republican Party said, “Democrats are so worried about Hillary that they’re making Sanders come to Minnesota today to try to explain to the 62 percent of Democrats who voted for him at caucuses exactly why he sold out.”

Despite his strong support in the Democratic presidential primary race, a trove of leaked emails revealed that party officials conspired to sabotage Sanders’ campaign and rig the primary in Clinton’s favor. The scandal resulted in the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz as chair of the DNC.

A few days before Sanders’ arrival in the Twin Cities to campaign for Clinton, a video tape of Clinton disparaging Sanders’ supporters surfaced and tensions rose between the former rivals.   On October 3, Clinton attended a rally in Toledo, Ohio without Sanders. According to the Boston Herald, Sanders “bailed” on joint appearances with Clinton over her remarks that his supporters are basement dwelling losers.

Clinton said about Sanders’ supporters in the leaked tape at a February fundraiser, “Some are new to politics completely.  They’re children of the Great Recession. And they are living in their parents’ basements.  They feel they got their education and the jobs that are available to them are not at all what they envisioned for themselves. And they don’t see much of a future.”



Donna Azarian