Bernie on the Boardwalk: Sanders Bashes Trump at Atlantic City Rally

Speaking in economically troubled Atlantic City, Bernie Sanders turned his attacks on the city’s former casino mogul — presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.

Bernie Sanders - Atlantic City

Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall on May 9th. (Photo | Dan McQuade)

In the building where Donald Trump once held Mike Tyson prizefights and World Wrestling Federation world championship matches, Bernie Sanders spoke before a crowd in Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City this morning. The assembled masses were as boisterous as the ones at the WrestleMania events once hosted there by Trump.

“I don’t have to tell you too much about Donald Trump,” Sanders said at the rally. “You know more than most Americans … what we’re seeing in Atlantic City capsulizes the ugliness and the greed we’re seeing all over the country.”

Trump once owned three casinos in Atlantic City, but lost them through a series of bankruptcies. He still brags about the money he made in Atlantic City, and considered his time there a success. That stance is ripe for Sanders to hit with his message of economic populism, as he did at the seaside resort that is on the verge of bankruptcy. “Don’t tell me it makes any sense for Wall Street billionaires to be profiting while the people of Atlantic City are suffering,” Sanders said.

Sanders spoke for an hour to about 2,000 in attendance at the rally. That included about 100 members of the UNITE HERE Local 54 union, the casino workers’ union that has endorsed Sanders. The presidential candidate hit at casino owner Carl Icahn, who is currently battling with the union over worker contracts at the Trump Taj Mahal. Union workers cheered as the candidate tied Icahn to Trump and attacked both.

Most of Sanders’ attacks on Trump hit his rhetoric, not his history in Atlantic City. “Donald Trump was one of the leaders of the so-called ‘birther’ movement,” Sanders said. “That movement was the very ugly, ugly effort to delegitimatize the first African-American president in our country. … You don’t have the right to try to make him an illegitimate president. That is ugly.”

Sanders also predicted he’d beat Trump in a general election. “He is not going to be elected president of the United States,” he said. “Every national poll that I have seen and virtually every state poll that I have seen Bernie Sanders beats him by double digits … They are not going to elect a president who insults Mexicans and Latinos, who insults Muslims and the entire Islamic religion, who insults women, who insults veterans, who insults the African-American community.”

While Trump has forced all his rivals to drop out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, Sanders remains in the race despite the huge odds against him for the Democratic nom. According to the AP delegate count, Sanders trails Hillary Clinton in the delegate count, 1,705 to 1,454. It’s close; Sanders sells it that he’s won “45 percent of the pledged delegates.” But Clinton holds a 523-39 edge in superdelegates, party leaders and elected officials who are free to vote for any candidate. Combined, Clinton is just 155 delegates short of the nomination. Sanders is 929 off that total.

Clinton leads New Jersey by 15 points in the Real Clear Politics average of recent polling. A Monmouth University poll has Clinton up, 60-32. The state’s primary is June 7th; 126 of the state’s 142 delegates will be up for grabs. Sixteen go to the statewide winner; the remaining are pledged proportionally to the winners of 20 special “delegate districts.” Sanders has received more than 26,000 contributions totaling $1.4 million in the state of New Jersey.

Sanders has vowed to stay in the race until the final Democratic primary on June 14th in the District of Columbia. His camp is attempting to convince superdelegates to switch their allegiances from Clinton to him, which is what happened for Barack Obama in 2008.

“Don’t let anybody tell you this election is over,” Sanders said. “We’re gonna fight until the last vote.”

But superdelegates were already changing their minds by February in the 2008 election. Obama had won 11 straight primaries. Sanders has won 19 primaries, but Clinton has won 26. Clinton has won 12 million votes to Sanders’ 9 million. Still, Clinton can’t really tell Sanders to drop out — as she vowed to stay in the race until the convention eight years ago. Sanders may drop out after the elections end and endorse Clinton, as Clinton did in 2008.

Sanders was considered a long-shot for the nomination when he announced his candidacy in April of last year. But he has mobilized young voters with his speeches on economic inequality. In the words of the New Yorker’s Margaret Talbot, Sanders supporters “combine admiration for progressive conviction with a slightly condescending fondness for cranky senior citizens.”

'Feel the Bern' and 'Bernie Fucking Sanders' shirts

Shirts for sale outside the Bernie Sanders rally in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on May 9th, 2016. (Photo: Dan McQuade)

Outside, supporters and/or hustlers sold t-shirts and buttons with slogans like “Feel the Bern,” “Talk Bernie To Me,” “Bernie Fucking Sanders,” and “Burn One for Bernie” (with an image of a pot leaf). But it was not just a young crowd inside, as there was a heavy union presence as well. “It’s not a political question, it’s a moral question,” Unite HERE Local 45 president Bob McDevitt said of economic inequality. “I’m tired of the bullshit!” He also shared a story about a union fight that involved a man standing up for the union when he “punched one of the union officials out and knocked him to the ground and walked out!”

In addition to the economy, Sanders also hit a bevy of standard liberal issues in his stump speech: Protecting the environment (he wants to ban fracking), overturning the Citizens United Supreme Court decision and support for gay rights. After a man yelled from the crowd about it, Sanders also said he supports the liberalization of marijuana laws. “If you’re some kid caught with marijuana, that kid will have a police record for the rest of his life,” he said. “But if you are an executive on Wall Street making millions of dollars a year in compensation, and your illegal actions helped destroy the lives of millions of people … you get an increase in your compensation.”

Clinton appears to have the Democratic nomination locked up. But Sanders sounded like a man who wasn’t about to give up anytime soon. “We are doing something that is quite unusual in contemporary American politics: We are telling the truth,” he told supporters. “We have a rigged economy, and many of you are the victims of that economy. … We are not going to allow the Trumps of the world to divide us up as to whether or not we were born in this country or whether we came from somewhere else.”

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