Supporters react to Sen. Bernie Sander's criticism of the Trump Administration.
Supporters react to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ criticism of the Trump administration. Photo by Chris Stone

Bernie Sanders name-checked congressional candidate Mike Levin a dozen times Friday night at a MiraCosta College rally, but the bumper stickers told a different story.

Outside on a foggy night, Madge Torres of Encinitas hawked “Bernie 2020” stickers for $2 apiece. Her business cards touted the Sanders-inspired “Our Revolution” North County chapter.

Inside, 64-year-old Jonathan Hinchliff of Fallbrook showed off his “Bernie 2020” sticker to a dozen camera crews and was asked who he represented.

“The conscience of America,” he said.

For 33 minutes, the Vermont senator taunted President Trump while reprising his own 2016 Democratic presidential stump speech in front of a gym-packed audience of 1,600.

The 77-year-old, completing a nine-state tour, began: “It looks like Oceanside is ready for a political revolution.”

He hit all the familiar notes — on climate change, wealth inequality, trillion-dollar tax breaks for billionaires, single-payer “Medicare for all” and a $15-an-hour national minimum wage.

He thanked California for its support of his campaign (46 percent of the Democratic vote). He mocked the president as a “pathological liar.”

Sanders noted in dismay a food pantry at MiraCosta College — prompting a small out-of-place cheer. He bemoaned that some students didn’t know where their next meal would come from.

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“Students don’t have adequate housing and food security,” he said. “Mike [Levin] is going to Washington with me to take on the billionaire class, multinational corporations and Wall Street.”

He later said: “Mike is going to Washington with me to make public colleges and universities tuition-free and substantially lower student debt.”

Where Levin didn’t go is on stage to shake Sanders’ hand or pose for the traditional arms-aloft tableau. His campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Taking swigs from a Bernie-branded water bottle in the steamy gym, Sanders made more references to the president than any other issue, not mentioning the pipe-bomb mailings.

“He pretends to be a tough guy,” Sanders said of Trump but his agents, “are ripping babies” from their migrant mothers’ arms and “ain’t so tough” when he deals with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“When it comes to standing up to the dictators in Saudi Arabia, Trump is not so tough,” he said, alluding to the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Sanders cited the recent U.N. report calling for immediate action to counter climate change.

“We say to Trump and the fossil-fuel industry: Your short-term profits are not more important than the future of the planet.”

Sanders didn’t specifically cite California’s Proposition 6 — repeal of the 12-cents-a-gallon gas tax for the sake of state infrastructure — but said in Washington he wanted a trillion-dollar investment in roads, bridges and water systems that would “create 13 million good-paying jobs.”

Earlier Friday, Sanders spoke to striking Marriott workers downtown.

Sanders, introduced by rally organizer and state Young Democrats President Will Rodriguez-Kennedy of San Diego, called Trump the first president in modern times not seeking to bring people together.

Instead, “this guy thinks he can get votes by getting one side … to hate another.”

Levin, the 49th District front-runner against Rep. Darrell Issa-endorsed Republican Diane Harkey, made a rousing speech of his own.

Calling it “the most important midterm election in our history,” Levin said the Nov. 6 ballot would be won or lost by voters ages 18-35. He said the result of 31 million voters in that age group in 2016 not voting was Trump, the Paris climate agreement pullout and tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 percent.

“And Justice Neil Gorsuch and Justice Brett Kavaaugh,” he said to audience boos.

The environmentalist Democrat followed more than a dozen other California and North County candidates on stage plus assorted labor and party leaders, including IBEW union leader Gretchen Newsom, wearing a blue laborer shirt and red headband while showing her biceps a la Rosie the Riveter.

Levin contrasted one dark future with a brighter one where “you take the time to vote. Suddenly government is protecting your health care. … Suddenly government becomes a lot less corrupt and a lot more humane.”

Levin made light of Harkey’s “I’m not a scientist” denial of climate change and “forced to ride bicycles and take trains and hose off at the depot” dismissal of mass transit.

“Finally, she told Breitbart that if Democrats win back the House, it’ll ‘be like California all over the nation,’” he said to sustained cheers and bleacher stomps.

“Kind of a remarkable statement to make, considering we are both running for office here in California.”

The SRO audience laughed.

Updated at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 27, 2018

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