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Santa Monica Becomes Bernie Sanders Country as Faithful Flock to Rally
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Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica


By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

May 24, 2016 -- Santa Monica, or at least the area around its high school near Downtown, was Bernie Sanders country Monday.

Those who waited in a crowd so big it caused blocks-long waiting lines outside the Santa Monica High School athletic field, reiterated the Vermont senator's vow to continue fighting.

Photos Courtesy PYFC

“We’re not going to give up,” said Lisa Smithline, a documentary filmmaker who trekked from Calabasas for a Sanders campaign rally at Santa Monica High School. “I’m really a Bernie-or-Bust person.”

So, it seemed, was almost everyone else there.

Sanders trails Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party’s frontrunner, in total delegates and needs a big victory in California in the June 7 primary in his uphill quest to take the nomination. But even as supporters crowded downtown sidewalks, a new poll was released Monday that added doubts about his ability to win.

The ABC7-Southern California News Group poll

showed Sanders 18 percentage points behind Clinton among voters likely to go to the polls in the Democratic primary.

But there was little talk about the odds as the Sanders faithful flocked to Santa Monica from throughout Southern California.

The turnout was mostly young, the traditional base of support for Sanders in his presidential bid, and reflected the diversity of the state’s population -- although it was a departure from Sanders’ core of mostly white liberal voters in previous primary elections.

Whatever their age or ethnicity, supporters lining the streets near the rally seemed to be united in one particular respect: They intensely disliked Clinton, some of them with the fierceness of her loudest Republican detractors.

One mother from Agoura Hills compared Clinton to “a lying sack” of dog droppings for her

job performance as then-Secretary of State in the 2012 attack on a United States outpost in Benghazi, Libya.

“I believe she should step up and take responsibility,” said Melinda Kaye, who journeyed to the Santa Monica rally with her teenage daughter and one of her daughter’s friends.

Kaye said she voted for Clinton eight years ago in the race against Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination, and now deeply regrets it because of Benghazi.

"She shouldn't have been made secretary of state," Kaye said. "She didn't have the expertise."

Now Kaye said she too is a Bernie-or-Bust voter.

Two blocks ahead in the line, a teenager from Venice said Clinton’s politics were from an era that has passed, and that the Democratic Party needs to move on from her.

“Bernie speaks to who we are now,” the 19-year-old said. “This is about our future. Bernie Sanders matters.”

Just the mention of Hillary Clinton caused a loud chorus of disdain from the crowd nearby. And the possibility of Sanders dropping out of the race against Clinton? Never.

“Hillary Clinton is the one who should drop out of the race,” said Musma Barvo, a North Hollywood resident in her twenties who, like those around her, waited patiently for at least two hours for Sanders to arrive in Santa Monica.

He'd been in East Los Angeles, where he packed a baseball field in Lincoln Park, all part of a jaunt through several Southern California cities in advance of the primary.

“Bernie Sanders is the only one who can unite us and beat (Republican candidate) Donald Trump,” Barvo said. “He’s not like other politicians. He isn’t doing this for himself. He’s doing it for us.”

Not far from Barvo, 36-year-old Charlie Brines of Rosemead, in the San Gabriel Valley, said he wasn’t worried about Sanders being able to beat Clinton.

Brines said he too is a Bernie-or-Bust voter. Unlike others in the crowd, though, he admitted he was already thinking about what to do in November if his candidate loses the primary. Would he sit out the fight against Trump altogether?

No, he said after some mental wrestling as he waited for Sanders to make his appearance.

“I’d have to default to Hillary,” Brines said.

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