SAN DIEGO (CN) — Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders and a host of musical acts and celebrities brought the party to Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday night ahead of Tuesday’s divisive California primary.
Sanders’ concert and Get Out the Vote campaign was his third stop in San Diego over the past few months as he wraps up his stump in California. Thousands showed up to the rally, but the crowd was significantly smaller than the strong turnout Sanders had at his first San Diego stump at the Convention Center in March.
A line a mile long wrapped around the San Diego Chargers’ Mission Valley stadium as petition gatherers and people handing out voter guides took advantage of a line full of progressive voters. San Diego Democratic hopefuls also hoping to get elected Tuesday shook hands and handed out pamphlets to voters.
Tuesday will see the largest number of registered California voters ever heading into a primary election, according to the Los Angeles Times.
While Clinton is poised to secure the 2,383 pledged delegates needed to secure the party’s nomination, Sanders and friends seemed to shift focus toward the “movement” of his supporters and the need to maintain that momentum and “energy” no matter what happens Tuesday.
Anja and Mike Dixson brought their 10-year-old son Philip to their third Sanders rally in San Diego to “show him he does have some say in the political process.”
A permanent legal resident from Germany, Anja said even though she cannot vote in the election Tuesday, Sanders is the first politician she has ever supported and volunteered for.
Anja said comparisons between Republican nominee Donald Trump and Hitler “are totally the same message” and she doesn’t want to see what happened to her German grandfather — who was drafted in World War II at age 16 and sent to Russia — happen in America.
“I know a lot of people are frustrated, but I believe you have to stand up if someone is that wrong about something,” Anja said.
Mike is originally from England but has lived in the United States for 30 years and is a U.S. citizen. He said Sanders is the only candidate who can relate to the struggles of everyday life.
“He’s the first to start questioning money in politics and is continuing Obama’s progress on universal healthcare, but he is also somebody we can relate to. He understands the struggles of ordinary life like paying your mortgage every month,” Mike said.
Despite Mike’s commitment to “seeing Bernie through to the end,” he said he is not “Bernie or Bust” and will vote for Hillary Clinton if she gets the Democratic Party’s nomination.
Further up the line, Hector Cruz from Florida said he’s already voted for Sanders and he likes Sanders’ “whole agenda” from his emphasis on equal rights to his stance on getting Wall Street and corporations out of politics.
“I’ve met a couple lobbyists when I worked in Washington, D.C., who flat out admitted to me they penned a couple of laws. That’s bullshit,” Cruz said.
Cruz said he can’t vote for Clinton because she is “perfect for the system we have now” and she has “flip flopped in debates to say whatever she needs to get votes.”
“I’m much more for Bernie’s platform but I’m also against the current political system we have,” Cruz said.
Having been to multiple Sanders rallies and events, Cruz said it is “nice to come out and meet other supporters, but that since is likely Sanders will not get the party campaign, Cruz hopes the presidential hopeful looks toward the future.
“He needs to look to the future and get as many progressives in the House and Senate as possible,” Cruz said.
Michael Mowgli & The Altruists kicked things off with “Bernie music,” singing lyrics like “let’s feel the Bern,” “let’s make it Bern,” “we all deserve some medicine,” “we can be the difference/we can end the suffering,” and “the revolution will happen in your heart.”
Following their performance, one of the singers went back on stage to call on the crowd to envision what a Sanders win Tuesday could do for the campaign leading to the November election.
“They say it’s impossible, yet look, here we are. This is not just a political revolution; this is a prayer for the whole world,” the singer said.
Michael Chavez Ibarra, grandson of labor leader and activist Cesar Chavez, told the crowd he believed his “Papa Cesar would be standing with me today,” while appearances by “Divergent” actress Shailene Woodley and actor Kendrick Sampson appealed to the younger crowd regarding voting rights and spreading the word about Tuesday’s primary.
Actor George Lopez was a no-show.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, told San Diegans, “in Hawaii we made our choice resoundingly for Sen. Bernie Sanders. Now it’s your time. All eyes are on California.”
Gabbard spoke to San Diego’s population of veterans and enlisted military, telling them Sanders would use “precious resources” to nation-build at home, rather than getting involved in “counterproductive nationalist wars.”
“We will not support the U.S. acting as the world’s police,” Gabbard said.
Famed academic Cornel West energized the crowd before introducing Sanders by cracking jokes and telling the crowd that if only those under 45 could vote in this election, Sanders would win by a landslide.
“Justice is what love looks like in public, just like tenderness is what love feels like in private,” Cornel joked.
West added, “He’s not an isolated icon. He’s a courageous, visionary leader. We’ve got a cause that’s bigger than the election.”
When Sanders took the stage, he touched on his “greatest hits” such as tuition free public college, lobbyists and corporations who “buy” elections, prison reform and the like.
He seemed to concede to Clinton, however, when he recognized “the movement” and the enthusiasm for the cause among young people and the need to carry that into the future.
“We have done something together. That is, primary after primary shows we are winning the overwhelming support of people under 45 years of age,” Sanders told the crowd.
“It is important because the message we have been fighting for is of social justice, economic justice, racial justice and environmental justice. That message is now in the hearts and souls of the younger Americans. Our message is the future of America,” the Democratic presidential candidate said.
Taking jabs at Clinton, Sanders told voters his campaign is the strongest to beat Trump.
“The energy and grassroots activism of this campaign is with us and not Hillary Clinton. That translates to high voter turnouts in November,” Sanders said.
He added, “Republicans win elections when people are demoralized, give up and don’t vote. Progressives win when people are energized, prepared to fight back and vote. In the year 2016, the American people will not accept a bigoted president.”
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