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Senator Bernie Sanders Visits Dutchess County

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders brought his “Future to Believe In” rally to Poughkeepsie Tuesday night. It was his first visit to the Hudson Valley of the campaign, with just one week before the New York primary.

Former R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe introduced Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders at Marist College before a crowd some 4,000 strong. Sanders told the mainly young supporters that a few hours earlier he had visited the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site in Hyde Park. He said that in a 1944 State of the Union speech, President Roosevelt outlined a second Bill of Rights, a presidential speech Sanders believes is one of the most important in history.

“In that remarkable speech, this is what Roosevelt stated, and I quote, “’We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence,’” said Sanders.

He invoked FDR several times, including again from that 1944 speech.

“He said that the American people as a right were entitled to a decent job at decent pay,” Sanders said.

Sanders is the third presidential candidate to hold an event in the Hudson Valley. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at a rally at SUNY Purchase in Westchester County March 31 and Republican Ohio Governor John Kasich was in Westchester and Rockland over the weekend. At the end of his speech, Sanders predicted the following.

“Let me assure of something that I know makes millions of Americans very nervous and, that is, Donald Trump will not become president of the United States,” Sanders said.

But Trump will be coming to the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie on Sunday. Marist College President Dennis Murray says the significance of this year’s New York primary adds to the importance of candidates visiting Dutchess County.

“So to have a presidential candidate come here to Marist —  I understand there’s going to be another one here in Poughkeepsie Sunday, not at Marist but in Poughkeepsie — that’s great for the college, it’s great for the community and, regardless of who you support, it’s good that people get engaged in our national politics,” Murray says.

Sanders continued with his Trump prediction.

“He will not become president because every national poll has me beating him by double digits,” said Sanders.

Plus, Sanders says, Trump has insulted a number of people. Renee Stringate-Lewis, an administrator at Marist College, explains why she supports Sanders.

“He goes against the grain,” says Stringate-Lewis. “He’s for the people and he speaks to just, I guess, believing in yourself and doing the right thing at all times and sticking up for those who can’t stick up for themselves.”

Sanders repeated his criticism of Clinton for her speeches to Wall Street and Super PAC contributions.

“Our job is to take these powerful special interests, take them on not take their money,” Sanders said.

Hudson Valley resident KT Tobin arrived several hours in advance of Sanders’ speech to ensure a spot on the floor right up front.

“I think it’s amazing to actually be able to see in person the next president of the United States right there in front of you articulating a platform that I feel like I’ve waited my whole life to hear,” Tobin says.

Although she is associate director of The Benjamin Center at the State University of New York at New Paltz, Tobin stresses her comments are hers alone. Sanders closed his speech with a lesson he has learned.

“What I have learned in this campaign is that when there is a large voter turnout, we win. When there is a low voter turnout, we lose,” Sanders says. “Next Tuesday, let us see the largest voter turnout in New York state history.”

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll out April 12 has Clinton leading Sanders by 14 points among the state’s likely Democratic primary electorate. Dr. Lee Miringoff is director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

“If you’re the Sanders folks, you want to score a big upset here in New York. Hillary Clinton was senator from New York. She had a 62 percent approval rating in New York so you need to somehow get a reversal,” says Miringoff. “This is a closed primary. Independents can’t vote and that’s where Bernie Sanders has been doing well, so this is a tall order for him here in the Empire State.”

The poll shows Trump with a 33-point lead. A Siena College poll out Wednesday put Clinton ahead by 10 points. Earlier in April, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, a Republican, invited all five presidential candidates to stop in his county. He attended Sanders’ speech at Marist.

“I lean right of center. I won’t be voting in the Democratic primary on Tuesday and I’m pretty sure Senator Sanders isn’t necessarily my candidate but, I have a job to do. My job is to represent every resident of Dutchess County,” says Molinaro. “I’m thrilled by the enthusiasm of his supporters. I’m very conscious of the fact that this is a young crowd that we want to engage.”

Molinaro was guest speaker at a Rockland County GOP dinner that Kasich attended. Meanwhile, Sanders covered topics he has in many of his stump speeches, like implementing a federal minimum wage of $15, Medicare for all, free tuition at public colleges and universities, and reforming Wall Street.

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