Park Slope

As primary approaches, Brooklyn plays big role

April 18, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Supporters cheer as Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign rally in Prospect Park on Sunday. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Thousands of supporters ‘Feel the Bern’ at Prospect Park rally

In the final days before today’s New York Primary, Brooklyn continued to play a major role in Democratic presidential politics. Not only did former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. and Brooklyn native Bernie Sanders spar in a heated debate at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on April 14, but Sanders held a rally in Prospect Park on Sunday that drew record crowds.

The Sanders campaign boasted that more than 28,300 supporters turned out in Prospect Park to hear the candidate’s message of economic equality and the need for campaign finance reform.

It was the largest crowd to attend a Sanders rally to date, according to his campaign.

“This is a campaign that is on the move,” Sanders told supporters. “With your help on Tuesday, we’re going to win right here in New York. This is a campaign that is bringing millions of people into the political process; working people and young people who are sick and tired of establishment politics and establishment economics. We want a government which represents all of us, not just the one percent.”

Sanders has won eight of the last nine primaries and caucuses across the country.

Clinton, however, holds a double digit lead over Sanders in New York, according to most polls. A CBS News poll had the former secretary of state with 53 percent to 43 percent for Sanders.

Sunday’s rally in Prospect Park boasted Hollywood star power. Actors Danny DeVito and Justin Long spoke in support of Sanders and the band Grizzly Bear entertained.

Sanders noted that his campaign has grown by leaps and bounds over the past year as voters have embraced his message. “This was a campaign that was considered a fringe candidacy, 70 points behind Secretary Clinton. Well, they don’t consider us fringe anymore,” he said.

Sanders also spoke of the differences between his approach and Clinton’s approach to handling Wall Street, telling supporters that he has introduced legislation to break up the big banks and restore Wall Street regulations that were dismantled before the financial collapse. Clinton has failed to get behind serious plans to curb Wall Street greed, according to Sanders.

In an email to reporters following the April 14 debate, Clinton’s campaign touted her record.

“Hillary Clinton has a long record of standing up to Wall Street and fighting for Main Street. Hillary Clinton has proposed the strongest, most comprehensive plan to tackle Wall Street risk and in the financial sector,” the email read.

Sanders also hit Clinton on campaign funding. Clinton spent the weekend before today’s primary at a series of high-dollar fundraisers in California, including one in Los Angeles on Saturday night hosted by Academy Award winner George Clooney and his wife Amal Clooney, where the top ticket was $353,000.

Sanders said his supporters have made 7 million donations averaging less than $30 a person.

But the Clinton campaign defended the star-studded fundraising, pointing out that the money is also going to the Democratic Party to help other candidates in state and local elections.

“Hillary Clinton has made it a priority to raise money for Democrats up and down the ballot and we’re grateful to everyone who supports the party,” Christina Reynolds, a Clinton campaign spokeswoman, told CNN.

Sanders also focused his fire power on Republicans, particularly frontrunner Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump will not be elected president of the United States because the American people will not support a candidate who insults Mexicans and Latinos, who insults Muslims, who insults women, who insults veterans, who insults the African-American community,” Sanders said.