San Diegans Rally for Bernie, Warn Hillary: Don’t Count on Us

Bernie Sanders flashed peace symbol in solidarity with Belgium on day of terror attacks. Photo by Chris Stone

By Ken Stone

Dylan Souza wore a Pokémon outfit, including yellow headgear, to the San Diego Convention Center. But his presence Tuesday night at the Bernie Sanders rally wasn’t Comic-Con kid stuff.

Bernie Sanders was afforded a Beatles-style welcome by some fans. Photo by Chris Stone
If the Vermont senator doesn’t win the Democratic nomination, he said, “I’d probably end up voting for Elizabeth Warren” as a write-in for president.

Souza, a 24-year-old from Cypress (near Anaheim), wasn’t alone.

Among thousands cheering for Sanders were many jeering any mention of Hillary Clinton on a large screen showing CNN or MSNBC results of voting in Arizona, Utah and Idaho. At one point, a brief chant began: “Turn it off! Turn it off!” referring to the TV.

Teresa Whitney of Point Loma said: “I’ve loved Hillary a long time until she started taking all her money from big corporations. I love that Bernie is one of us.”

Whitney, 61, said she contributed to Sanders’ campaign “all the time.”

Sean Train of North Park, an Independent who last voted for Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, said if Sanders doesn’t win the Democratic nod, “my vote will end up going to a third party.”

Saying he wants to break up the two-party monopoly, the 30-year-old Train declared: “Now that we know fully and definitively that we live in an oligarchy, and no longer a democracy, we need someone radical like Bernie to flip things around and get us back on track.”

Film and TV star Rosario Dawson made a love symbol to the audience before introducing Bernie Sanders. Photo by Chris Stone

Wayne Peters of Pacific Beach, a retired San Diego City College and Southwestern College teacher who calls himself a cancer researcher, was unequivocal.

He said if Sanders doesn’t win his party’s nomination in Philadelphia, he “definitely” won’t vote for Clinton, and “it’s not going to Trump.”

“Doesn’t [Sanders] have the option to re-register as an Independent?” asked Peters, 68.

And another PB resident, John Nicksiz, had one big reason to oppose Clinton — her early support for the TPP — the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

Nicksiz, at 74 the same age as Sanders, said he spent 37 years as a steel worker in Indiana mills, retiring in 1980.

“I won’t vote for her,” he said, suggesting that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce expects her to again back TPP. “I’ll write Bernie in.”

Of a dozen rally-goers quizzed by Times of San Diego, only a handful said they’d vote for Clinton if she is the party’s standard-bearer.

But not enthusiastically, they said.

Sanders capitalized on such energy Tuesday despite CNN calling the Arizona primary for his opponent about 15 minutes before he began his standard stump speech.

Camila Herrera of La Mesa (left) and Diana Lang of Tierrasanta react to Sanders on a video screen. Photo by Ken Stone

He declared near the end of his 45-minute talk: “If there’s a large voter turnout, we will win in California” on June 7.

Scheduled to start at 8 p.m., the rally didn’t begin until 8:27, when TV and film star Rosario Dawson made a heart with her hands and said:

“You’re here because you’re talking to each other” and not at the orders of the Democratic National Committee. “We need you now more than ever. Youth has been on the right side of history on every issue.”

And: “If you want to beat Trump, vote Bernie.”

Sanders recited his popular-with-young-people plans, including free public-college tuition, loosening of marijuana limits and campaign finance reform.

He got the usual laughs with: “I have been criticized for saying this, so let me say it again: I believe health care is a right for all people.”

But perhaps the biggest cheers from an estimated 8,800-person indoor audience came when he said his campaign would side with Latinos on immigration — and end what he called the exploitation of 11 million undocumented people.

Dozens of Secret Service agents were present for security, but no threats were observed — just a topless woman in the crowd.

“Well, when your nipples are #Bern ing, time to cool them off!” said a response to images posted on social media.