A crowd of more than 1,000 people packed into Deering High School’s gym Tuesday night to hear Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders stump for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as her campaign grapples with fallout from new email revelations.

Sanders spoke to the enthusiastic gathering for more than 45 minutes and stressed the outsized role that Maine voters might play in choosing the next president given a recent national poll showing Clinton and Republican Donald Trump in a virtual dead heat.

“Hillary Clinton will win Maine if there is a high voter turnout, she will lose if there’s low voter turnout,” Sanders told the crowd. “Those four electoral votes could literally make the difference as to who the next president of the United States is.”

Sanders’ visit followed the FBI director’s announcement Friday that the bureau had discovered new emails that may be related to its investigation of Clinton’s private server. This is the second time Sanders has campaigned for Clinton in Maine, a state he won handily in the Democratic caucus.

Sanders did not mention the latest controversy surrounding Clinton and blamed “the national media” for its failure to focus on policy issues, citing a recent Tyndall Report tabulation that found that the three major television networks had spent a total of 32 minutes combined covering issues this year. Sanders said if Maine voters focused on policy, they would reach the same conclusion he had.

“If we do that, I think there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that far and away on every issue the better and stronger candidate by far is Hillary Clinton,” Sanders said.

Grant Hefler wears a Bernie Sanders mask while his friend Aidan Carlson, in the orange hat, looks on. The two traveled from Wiscasset to see U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders stump for former rival Hillary Clinton at Deering High School.

Grant Hefler wears a Bernie Sanders mask while his friend Aidan Carlson, in the orange hat, looks on. The two traveled from Wiscasset to see U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders stump for former rival Hillary Clinton at Deering High School. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

 

CLINTON SUPPORTERS UNDETERRED

Voters who came to see Sanders said they were not deterred by Clinton’s latest email woes.

“None of it’s changing my mind,” said Deeta Burgess, 63, of Cumberland Foreside. “I think she’s smart and I think she is capable, and she has a lot of experience that I have always believed in.”

Allen Rivest and his wife, Carol, who were delegates for Clinton, said they did not believe the FBI would find anything new in the latest emails, but worried that other people might jump to conclusions in the absence of facts.

“It could be redundant, it could be completely innocent, but the implication is there and Donald Trump is just running with it,” Allen Rivest said.

Rivest also expressed concerns that FBI Director James Comey’s decision to contact Congress about the email discovery was the result of Republican political pressure and not in the public’s best interest.

A Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram poll conducted Oct. 20-25, before the FBI revealed it had discovered the new emails, showed Clinton widening her lead among likely voters in the state, including in Maine’s more conservative 2nd Congressional District. A Washington Post/ABC poll conducted after the announcement shows Clinton trailing Trump by one point nationally.

Trump’s campaign has seized on the latest Clinton controversy, making it a centerpiece of his speeches, including one Friday to a crowd of 1,200 in Lisbon, where the candidate called the email revelation “the biggest scandal since Watergate.” On Tuesday, Trump’s Maine campaign staff continued to go on the offensive.

“Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers are in a full-fledged nosedive,” said Christie-Lee McNally, Maine state director for the Trump campaign. “She simply cannot build enthusiasm on the ground and must resort to bringing in surrogates to rally her base.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont stumps for his former rival for the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday at Deering High in Portland. "On every issue the better and stronger candidate by far is Hillary Clinton," he said.

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont stumps for his former rival for the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday at Deering High in Portland. “On every issue the better and stronger candidate by far is Hillary Clinton,” he said. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

IN MAINE, THOUSANDS HAVE VOTED

This latest controversy began when FBI agents discovered a trove of new emails as part of an unrelated investigation into allegations that former Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York, the estranged husband of longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin, sent lewd messages to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina.

Comey set off a firestorm of criticism Friday after he sent a letter to 16 members of Congress alerting them to the discovery.

Comey sent the letter against the advice of Justice Department officials, who expressed concern about publicly discussing an ongoing investigation so close to the election.

On Sunday, the Justice Department reported that it had received a warrant to begin reviewing the approximately 650,000 emails found on Weiner’s computer. It is not clear if the Justice Department and FBI will be able to complete their review before Election Day.

In another development that followed the FBI announcement, Wikileaks released a new batch of hacked emails Monday, including one that interim Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile sent to the Clinton campaign alerting them to questions Clinton would face during a March Democratic primary debate in Flint, Michigan. Brazile received the questions as a paid commentator for CNN.

With only a week before the election, it is unclear how these latest revelations will affect voters.

As of last week, more than 124,000 Maine voters had submitted their absentee ballots. Over 25 million people have already voted across the country according to the United States Election Project.