SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WPRI) — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is making a two-day swing through Massachusetts on Friday and Saturday, aiming to earn voters’ support on Super Tuesday.
The independent senator, who is currently the frontrunner in the Democratic primary for president, stuck mainly to his usual script at a rally in Springfield Friday night, criticizing President Trump and the party establishment but not directly naming his Democratic opponents.
“They say Bernie can’t beat Trump,” Sanders said. “They’re not worried that I can’t beat Trump. They’re worried that we will beat Trump.”
Sanders is going into the Massachusetts primary race with an edge over Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, according to a new poll by WBUR. A UMass Lowell poll released last week showed the two progressive senators in a virtual tie. He started running a new TV ad in Massachusetts and Rhode Island this week featuring the late President John F. Kennedy. (Rhode Island’s primary is on April 28.)
While he didn’t mention Warren by name in her home state, Sanders made a veiled reference to reports on Thursday that a super PAC spending millions to support her would not disclose its donors before Super Tuesday, despite her request they do so.
“We don’t have billionaires putting money in an undisclosed way into a super PAC,” Sanders told the crowd.
He garnered massive cheers for some of his common refrains, including promises to cancel student debt, push for free college tuition, and only nominate judges to the federal bench and Supreme Court that support Roe v. Wade.
Many voters who spoke to WPRI 12 were diehard Sanders supporters but mixed on whether they would support another candidate if he doesn’t win the Democratic nomination.
“They would have to work really hard to convince me that their plan and their ability to execute that plan for America is as good as Bernie’s,” said Cynthia Raiser Jeavons, who was visiting from California, another Super Tuesday state. She said she would potentially stay home in November if she couldn’t support the Democratic nominee.
“I will not vote for Bloomberg,” said David Raphael of Conway, Massachusetts. “I will not vote for Steyer. I think Pete Buttigieg has been bought.” But he said he would happily vote for Warren if Sanders is not the nominee — and would reluctantly vote for Biden.
Kate McGovern of Boston was more definite, saying she’d vote for the Democratic nominee in November no matter what. She was still undecided about whom to vote for in the primary, though — either Warren or Sanders — and drove down to Springfield to see if Sanders could win her vote.
“I think he’s a little bit better at delivering his message that relates to normal people like me,” McGovern said.
Sanders won Rhode Island with 54% of the vote over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential primary but lost to Clinton by less than two percentage points in Massachusetts.
Before Super Tuesday, Sanders will first have to get through South Carolina, which is holding its primary on Saturday. Recent polls indicate former Vice President Biden has the lead in that state, where he has a strong base of support among African Americans.
Sanders was in South Carolina holding several events earlier Friday before flying to Massachusetts for the Springfield rally. He’s holding another rally in Boston on Saturday before traveling to Virginia on Saturday night.