Sanders, in Portland appearance, says he is the Democrat to beat Trump

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PORTLAND — Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders took on two front-runners Wednesday afternoon in a campaign rally at the State Theater ahead of Sunday’s Democratic caucuses.

Sanders said his campaign remains strong despite losing seven of 11 Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“Last night, we had an extraordinary night. When there are large voter turnouts, when working-class class people who have largely given up on the process and young people who have not been part of the process come out in large numbers, we do very well,” Sanders told the crowd of about 1,600 people.

Sanders, urging voters to bring friends and family to caucuses throughout the state on Sunday, said turnout is the key for his campaign.

“If we have a large turnout here in Maine, we will win this state,” he said. “If we win in Maine, we move another step forward towards a political revolution in this country.”

Sanders also looked beyond the race for the Democratic nomination. He said he is better positioned to beat Republican front-runner Donald Trump, who will make a campaign stop Thursday, March 3, at 1:30 p.m. at the Portland Westin Harborview Hotel on High Street.

“Togetherness trumps divisiveness,” Sanders told the crowd at the Congress Street theater.

In an hour-long speech, Sanders outlined the policies and philosophies he has repeated since entering the race. He called for a $15-per-hour minimum wage, promised free educations for students attending publicly funded colleges and universities, criminal justice reforms to end racial disparities in prison populations, expansion of Social Security and publicly funded health care, and a federal jobs program to improve highways and other infrastructure to boost the economy and reduce unemployment.

His promises to fix what he called a “broken” system led him to chide Clinton for her acceptance of contributions and speaking fees from Wall Street firms, while saying he would tax “Wall Street speculation” to fund college tuitions.

Sanders called out to wage-earners working multiple jobs and barely subsisting to join him.

“We do not represent the billionaire class, we do not represent Wall Street,” the candidate said.

While 45 minutes late to the stage, Sanders found a receptive crowd, including about 40 supporters who stood behind him and a packed house in front of him.

Dixfield residents Melissa Burnham and her son, Noah Burnham, made the trip with seven other friends. Before the speech, Noah rode his mother’s shoulders and hoisted a sign saying “A Future To Believe In,” to help warm up the crowd.

“(Noah) had a snow day today, but we were going to take the day off anyway,” Melissa said. “I need a secure future in the U.S. for my kids and that is what Bernie can provide.”

Portland resident Marjorie Fallon said she supports Sanders and any other candidates she votes for because of their principles.

Fallon, 82, said her first presidential vote was for Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, and she has supported two Maine Republicans: former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe and current Sen. Susan Collins.

“Ever since (Sanders) came on the scene, I knew I would support him,” she said. “It is the person and what they stand for. I think people have lost sight of that.”

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders urged Mainers to turn out for the March 6 Democratic caucuses during a March 2 campaign appearance at the State Theater in Portland.

Noah Burnham and Melissa Burnham came from Dixfield for a rally for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign March 2 at the State Theater in Portland. “I need a secure future for my kids in the U.S.,” Melissa Burnham said.

The March 2 rally for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders drew Cape Elizabeth residents Kristie and Iris Green, left, and Portland resident Marjorie Fallon. “It is the person and what they stand for. I think people have lost sight of that,” said Fallon, who said she cast her first vote for Gen. Dwight Eisenhower.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders attracted a packed house at the State Theater in Portland on March 2, in advance of state Democratic caucuses Sunday, March 6.

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.