Presidential hopeful and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders shared his vision for a “political revolution” with supporters while taking jabs at President Trump and the political establishment at a campaign rally Sunday night in Portland.

In a roughly 45-minute speech at the State Theatre, Sanders, an independent seeking the Democratic nomination, described plans for providing health care for all, addressing climate change and implementing stricter gun laws.

He also talked about his plans to cancel college debt and provide free public higher education, raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour and implement comprehensive immigration reform.

“We have a president who is a racist, who is a sexist, who is a homophobe, a xenophobe, a religious bigot and among other things also a pathological liar,” Sanders told the crowd of more than 1,600. “But I don’t want to waste too many words on Donald Trump because we’re going to get him out of office very soon.”

Sanders’ visit comes a little over one week after fellow presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, also made an appearance in Portland. The two are among 20 candidates vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

During his speech, Sanders didn’t focus on any one topic but gave an overview of his plans if elected. He touched on many of the same campaign points made in 2016, when he defeated Hillary Clinton 64-36 percent in Maine’s Democratic caucuses but ultimately lost the national nomination.


“Our goal is not only to win the election but to bring about a political revolution,” he told the crowd.

Sanders’ stop in Maine also comes a day after he previewed a plan to cancel past-due medical debt and ensure medical bills don’t impact credit scores.

“Health care is a human right, not a privilege,” he said Sunday night, pledging to also lower the cost of pharmaceuticals if elected and promising that no Americans would pay more than $200 for the prescriptions they need.

He said the shooting in West Texas that left seven people dead Saturday and other recent shootings can be difficult to talk about, and while there is no one solution to reducing gun violence, there are a few things he would do if elected.

Those include expanding background checks, ending gun show loopholes and ending the sale and distribution of assault weapons.

Throughout his discussion, Sanders pointed out to supporters that he differs from Trump and his approach to a number of issues, including climate change, which Trump has called “a hoax.”


“Tonight we’re here to tell Donald Trump climate change is not a hoax,” he said. “Donald Trump is a hoax and maybe when we’re in the White House, together we’ll have a president who actually believes in science.”

On other issues, Sanders also pledged to bring the minimum wage to $15 per hour and encouraged those in the audience to let their local officials and elected representatives know they support a higher minimum wage.

“If somebody in this country is working 40 hours per week, they should not be living in poverty,” he said.

Earlier in the evening, dozens of supporters lined the street waiting to get into the theater. Many said they supported Sanders in 2016 and were disappointed with his loss.

Jenny Rebscher, 30, of South Portland brought her 1-year-old daughter to the rally and said her biggest reason for supporting Sanders is his pledge to cancel student debt and make college debt-free for all.

“I don’t want Trump to win,” Rebscher said. “He’s an idiot. I don’t want my daughter to be in his America.”


“It’s certainly a unique moment coming off of 2016,” said another supporter, Brendan Murtha, 20, of Brunswick. “I think his chances are getting better.”

Nationally, a Quinnipiac University poll released last week found that former Vice President Joe Biden is currently the front-runner among candidates for the Democratic nomination, with support from 32 percent of Democratic voters or independent voters who lean Democratic.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., followed with 19 percent and Sanders with 15 percent. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., received 7 percent and Buttigieg, 5 percent.

Sunday’s visit was part of a Labor Day weekend swing through New Hampshire and Maine for Sanders, who will deliver the keynote address Monday at the Southern Maine Labor Council Labor Day Breakfast and rally at the Irish Heritage Center on Gray Street in Portland.

In his parting words to supporters, Sanders said this is “an unprecedented moment in American history” and the outcome of the election will have global consequences.

“If there was ever a moment in American history that we have to stand up and fight back, this is it,” he said.

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