BANGOR — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday urged a crowd of more than 500 people at the Cross Insurance Center to vote for Hillary Clinton for president next month.
Recent polls have shown Trump polling about 10 points ahead Clinton in the 2nd Congressional District that includes all of the state north of Augusta and Lewiston.
Sanders, who handily bested Clinton in the Maine Democratic caucus earlier this year, told the crowd that he understood working and middle class Americans feel they are falling behind and see little chance of getting ahead.
“Now, people are angry and they have a right to be angry,” Sanders told the crowd that chanted, “Bernie, Bernie, Bernie,” as he took the stage. “But let’s take our anger out on people that caused the problems. You want to be angry, look at the crooks on Wall Street.”
Sanders said that Clinton would implement many of the policies he promoted during his campaign including improving the nation’s infrastructure as a way to employ more Americans, working with scientists to stem the impact of climate change, and improving access to higher education.
In Maine, some Sanders supporters have been reluctant to back Clinton. Sanders said in an interview before the rally that he understood that.
“I wish very much that I was returning to Maine as the Democratic nominee but that’s the way it is, I lost,” he said. “And my job now, as an American citizen, as a U.S. senator from New England, is to do my best to make sure that we elect the candidate who will do most for the middle class and working class families of this country.
“All that I ask of people is that they get beyond personality,” Sanders continued. “The media is trying to make this a personality contest. It turns out that a whole lot of people don’t like Hillary Clinton. They don’t like Donald Trump. Get beyond that.”
The senator also said he wanted to tell Mainers that “Donald Trump would be a disaster for this country.”
Some of those who attended Friday’s rally echoed that concern.
Robin Weyeneth, 20, and Eric Deschene 20, both of Fort Kent and Baxter Parent, 21, of Limerick will vote for president for the first time in November. All three said they attended the rally to support Sanders but would vote for Clinton.
“I’m going to vote for not Donald Trump,” Parent, a student at Husson University, said after the rally. “I see Hillary Clinton supporting more of what Bernie Sanders says. So, that’s why I’m going to vote for Hillary Clinton rather than Donald Trump.”
Deschene attends the University of Maine and Weyeneth is in the U.S. Army Reserve. One issue important to all three is Clinton’s pledge to provide free college tuition to students attending public colleges and universities.
“Being a college student, I’m definitely in a lot of debt,” Parent said. “Free tuition would be a beautiful thing. I know it’s not going to really impact me personally, but more so for my kids, future generations and stuff.”
Parent, who said he’s going into health care, also said that Sanders’ criticism of the huge profits made by pharmaceutical firms resonated with him.
“I see pharmaceuticals as not a necessity, it’s more a money game,” he said.
Weyeneth also said she’s voting against Trump.
“I don’t want him to be in my chain of command,” she said.
Maxwell Morgan, 11, of Lincoln attended the rally with his mother Rebecca Morgan, 52, and other family members. Maxwell is not old enough to vote next month but he has an opinion on who should be president.
“If we can’t have Bernie Sanders, then, we should definitely have Hillary Clinton,” he said. “I feel like Trump is just going to ruin America.”