BANGOR — Sen. Bernie Sanders campaigned for Hillary Clinton here Friday, urging voters in the battleground state to look beyond the personalities of the two deeply unpopular presidential candidates and judge them on the issues.

Sanders was slow to endorse Clinton after the Democratic primaries, and as an emissary he praised her for having embraced his signature issues, from raising the minimum wage to subsidizing public college tuition. He also lambasted Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, whom he said had run a bigoted and insult-driven campaign.

“When you run for president of the United States, there has got to be at least a minimum threshold of decency,” Sanders told the enthusiastic crowd of 200 to 300 people.

Sanders spoke in Maine’s hotly contested 2nd District, where he pleaded with voters to turn out to defeat Trump. Sanders handily beat Clinton in Maine’s March caucuses. Though she is leading in Maine’s more populous 1st District, Clinton trails Trump by a 14-point margin in the 2nd District, according to a mid-September Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram poll of likely voters. Under Maine law, the winner in each of the state’s two congressional districts gets an electoral vote, and the remaining two votes go to the statewide winner. Trump has scheduled a rally in Bangor next Saturday.

As they gathered in Bangor’s Cross Insurance Center, many of Sanders’ supporters said they were ready to vote for Clinton.

“When I think about the future of my child with Hillary versus Donald Trump, it’s an easy decision,” Kelly Clark told the Press Herald.

Clark, who was a Sanders supporter in the caucuses, said she recently traveled to Canada to buy EpiPens for her daughter, Ally, 17. EpiPens can cost upward of $600 in the U.S. and were the subject of controversy after parent company Mylan Pharmaceutical hiked prices on the lifesaving medication by nearly 400 percent. Clark said she thought Clinton would be more likely to stand up to pharmaceutical companies like Mylan.

Others voters said they felt more comfortable with Clinton since she adopted key aspects of Sanders’ platform. Joanna Robinson, 26, of Bangor voted for Sanders in the caucuses but said she was grateful Clinton had taken on the issue of crippling student debt.

“I’m really glad she hasn’t abandoned us,” Robinson said.

Clinton has struggled to attract millennials like Robinson, who flocked to Sanders in record numbers during the Democratic caucuses. Many of the young people attending Friday said Sanders was the first politician to inspire them to participate in the political system.

University of Maine students Juliana Rattey, Samiera Macmullen and Alexandra Roderick, all 20, said that though they had not voted in the caucuses, they would heed Sanders’ call to vote for Clinton in the general election. They credit Sanders for getting them out to vote for the first time.

Kayleigh Knights, 25, who carried a colorful sign emblazoned with the words “I trust you Bernie,” said she was willing to back Clinton if Sanders was.

“The alternative is chaos,” Knights said.

Democratic hopefuls Emily Cain and Troy Jackson also made appearances at the rally. Cain, who is in a tight race with Republican incumbent Bruce Poliquin for Maine’s 2nd District seat, strongly aligned herself with Sanders, and to a lesser extent Clinton, and tried to connect Poliquin with Trump by pointing out that neither candidate faithfully paid taxes.

It is not clear, however, that the Clinton campaign’s attempts to sway Sanders voters in Maine will work. With little more than a month until the election, it appears that Maine voters are ready to split the state’s four electoral votes for the first time in history.

Kate McCormick can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

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