In Cambridge, Bernie Sanders aims to fire up local support

Senator Bernie Sanders visited with local organizers at Club Passim.
Senator Bernie Sanders visited with local organizers at Club Passim. Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff/Globe staff

CAMBRIDGE — Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the 2020 Democratic nomination brought him to Cambridge on Tuesday afternoon to speak at a closed meeting with local organizers. He traveled to the city from an organizing breakfast in Portsmouth, N.H., and said he was headed to Texas directly after.

In the small underground room at Club Passim, a folk music venue near Harvard Square, Sanders spoke with supporters, fielding questions and firing the group up for the upcoming elections.

“Our job is obviously to win the Democratic primary. I think we can do it, I feel good about it,” Sanders said to the crowd. “Our job, obviously, is to unite the entire Democratic Party to defeat the most dangerous president in modern history — that is, Donald Trump. But our job goes beyond that. Our job is to transform the economic and political life of this country.”


The event took place a day after Sanders’ comments during a CNN Town Hall at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., in which he supported voting rights for currently imprisoned felons, including “terrible people” like Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Sanders did not address the comments during the Tuesday organizing event, instead discussing issues such as universal health care, climate change, decriminalization of marijuana, and training police officers to deal with crowd disturbances and individuals with mental illness. He handled the questions in his typically progressive fashion, marketing himself as a representative for the bottom 99 percent.

Each of his answers was met with applause and cheers that carried through the small space.

Sanders also celebrated the 2018 decision of the Democratic National Committee to prohibit “superdelegates” from voting on the first ballot at the party’s presidential nominating convention, effectively diluting party insiders’ influence on the nominating process.

A majority of the audience members the Globe spoke to were Sanders supporters prior to this election cycle, with some saying they have stood by him since the 1980s. Many felt he was a consistent candidate whom they could trust. Erika Montana, a Watertown resident, believes he has always been on the right side of history.


“I supported Bernie in 2016. I saw Elizabeth Warren out there cheering for Hillary, and Hillary was just not my candidate at all,” Montana said. “I think she [Warren] is a good candidate, but we have footage of Bernie from the ’80s on the right side of history in every vote. I want a guy with that kind of character as my president.”

Another supporter said she felt Sanders proved himself trustworthy.

“I’ve been following him for over 30 years. He’s been defending Social Security and all sorts of things,” said Emilia Rainwalker, a Dorchester resident. “He’s been bold and for the people, so I trust him and his political wisdom.”

Sanders is currently one of 19 individuals competing to be the Democratic nominee in the 2020 presidential election.

Ysabelle Kempe can be reached at ysabelle.kempe@globe.com.