Sanders Revs Up Crowd |Aiming for Tuesday Win

     PROVIDENCE (CN) — Sen. Bernie Sanders may be facing long odds for success in this week’s primaries, but he cheered over seven thousand supporters in Rhode Island on Sunday with a zealous speech on changing national policies.
     The state is one of five that will hold primary elections on Tuesday.
     At present, the Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, holds a lead of 200 pledged delegates over Sanders, and with superdelegates factored in, has 1,944 in total – meaning she has 82 percent of the 2,383 delegates she needs to win the nomination.
     Sanders, with his superdelegates factored in, has 1,192 in total.
     Superdelegates are Democratic party and elected officials who have pledged their support to a specific candidate, but are free to vote for whomever they choose at the party convention. Unlike the pledge delegates, they don’t necessarily reflect the popular vote in their respective states.
     The Vermont Senator hopes to slow Clinton’s momentum on Tuesday, but polling in Pennsylvania and Connecticut show him losing in those two states.
     Rhode Island, however, is a different story. The latest polls here have Sanders leading 49 percent to 45 percent.
     Appearing before an exuberant crowd on Sunday at Roger Williams Park in Providence, Sanders stuck to the issues that have defined his campaign from the beginning.
     These include eliminating “grotesque” level s of income inequality and the revolving door between Wall Street and government, acknowledging education and healthcare as a basic human right, reinforcing family values by providing paid family and medical leave to all workers, instituting prison, police and immigration reform, reclassifying the crime of addiction as a health issue, spending money on rebuilding inner-city infrastructure instead of wars, and creating jobs by transforming our energy system from fossil fuels to sustainable technologies.
     “Don’t let anyone tell you that we’re thinking too big,” said Sanders, his wrists and hands slightly trailing behind his extended arms in their fluid and relaxed movements, like a lithe conductor. “What I believe today and what I have always believed is that when people stand together, united and not divided, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish.”
     Encircled by oak trees budding fresh leaves, the wildly diverse audience packed the verdant lawn surrounding the park’s airy marble amphitheater. Behind its imposing columns, bright sunshine shimmered on the surface of a lake on the other side of the venue as the crowd cheered.
     Sanders also informed voters on why it was necessary, locally and nationally, to make the changes he advocates.
     He explained how Rhode Island has the highest percentage of dilapidated bridges in the country, with half of the state’s bridges being in disrepair, and reminded everyone that the Ocean State has the highest poverty rate in New England.
     He noted that one out of five Americans cannot afford to fill their prescriptions, and pointed out that the top three drug companies in America $45 billion in profit last year at a time when Americans paying more for healthcare than any other country.
     Sanders said retooling the Affordable Care Act to make it a single payer healthcare system “frees up the entrepreneurial spirit of America” because people can start their own business without the burden of worrying about what they will do for healthcare.
     The long-time civil rights activist also commented on our government spending $80 billion on jailing our population for petty offenses, which disproportionately affects minorities, while bankers who engaged in the “illegal activities that destroyed our economy” get raises in pay and appointments as high-ranking government officials.
     “A great country is morally judged, not by how many millionaires it has, not how many nuclear weapons it has, it is judged by how we treat the weakest and most vulnerable people,” he said.
     Sanders, who often addressed his supporters as “brothers and sisters,” also reflected on Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island and his early advocacy for fair dealings with Native Americans.
     Sadly, the senator said, few others followed Williams’ lead.
     “The native American people were lied to, they were cheated, and treaties they negotiated were broken,” Sanders said. “We know that we owe the Native American people a deeper debt of gratitude than we can ever repay. They have taught us so much … Among many other things that they have taught us is the fact that as human beings we are part of nature and that we’ve got to live with nature, not destroy nature, if our planet is going to survive.”
     Sanders then called for Clinton, who held a smaller rally in Rhode Island on Saturday, to join him in calling for a carbon tax to counterbalance man-made global warming.
     He also spoke of Donald Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination..
     “Don’t worry,” Sanders said of Trump winning the Presidential race. “Ain’t gonna happen. We are beating Trump in every state and national poll.”
     Before the senator took the stage, toddlers rolled in the grass, boys tossed a football, and dogs played with passersby. Young and old attendees rocked multicolored hair. A pregnant woman donned a Bernie Sanders bumper sticker across her rotund belly. Children sat atop their parents’ shoulders. Teenagers hoisted up homemade signs, and those wearing “Free Hugs” t-shirts stopped frequently for embraces.
     This all stopped once Sanders emerged from a blacked-out SUV.
     Jason Ashley, of Bristol, Rhode Island, said he understands why people are so taken with the senator.
     “The reason I wanted to see him in person is because you get to see how he actually acts with the people opposed to what the media portrays, which can be biased,” Ashley said. “But watching it firsthand, you get a sense of what he really stands for. I was impressed at how much time he spent shaking hands with people afterwards.”
     Another supporter, Shane Hertig of Austin, Texas was in town for work and jumped at the chance to see Sanders. “It’s not just hearing his words. It’s hearing his tone and seeing his body language,” Hertig said. “He’s a master of human relations, a captivating speaker. He’s not saying everyone needs a flat screen TV. He just wants to redistribute he wealth so everyone gets what they need to survive. And he talked about the Native Americans. He’s not going to win votes from that, but you can tell as president he would better our relationships.”Sanders went on to New Haven, Connecticut for another rally Sunday night and was scheduled to hold a rally Monday morning in Hartford, Connecticut.

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