As He Votes in Vermont, Sanders Confident His Campaign's 'Energy' Will Carry the Day | Off Message

Bernie Sanders
As He Votes in Vermont, Sanders Confident His Campaign's 'Energy' Will Carry the Day

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Bernie Sanders speaking to reporters outside the polls in Burlington on Tuesday - DEREK BROUWER
  • Derek Brouwer
  • Bernie Sanders speaking to reporters outside the polls in Burlington on Tuesday
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) cast his vote Tuesday morning on a pivotal election day in the Democratic presidential primary, as voters in 14 states, including Vermont, weighed in on the race.

Driving a green Subaru Forester, Sanders and his wife, Jane O'Meara Sanders, arrived at the Robert Miller Community and Recreation Center in Burlington's New North End around 10:30 a.m. They were met by a media scrum of dozens of reporters and camera crews who had traveled to Vermont ahead of Sanders' election night rally in Essex.

"Welcome to the state of Vermont. You've increased the GDP by 16 percent," Sanders quipped.

Polling has suggested the campaign frontrunner will perform well on Super Tuesday, but Sanders faces renewed pressure from former vice president Joe Biden, who emerged in the last 72 hours as the consensus alternative to Sanders among party moderates.

Biden scored a decisive victory Saturday in South Carolina, winning nearly 50 percent of votes to Sanders' 20 percent. On Monday, former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) dropped out of the race and endorsed Biden. Former presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke of Texas, a state that's a top Super Tuesday prize, also threw his support behind the former vice president.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg also remain in the race. Warren is still looking for her first primary victory, as is Bloomberg, who skipped the early contests and instead spent hundreds of millions of dollars of his own fortune in a bid to win broad support on Super Tuesday. 
Sanders leaving the polls - DEREK BROUWER
  • Derek Brouwer
  • Sanders leaving the polls
Surrounded by reporters at the Burlington polling station, Sanders made brief remarks in which he argued that his campaign has built the grassroots movement he believes is necessary to defeat President Donald Trump.

"To beat Donald Trump, we are going to have to have the largest voter turnout in the history of this country," he said. "We need energy. We need excitement. I think our campaign is that campaign." Sanders' chances of winning in November were on the mind of Burlington resident Sarah Calnan, 42, as she cast her ballot for the senator Tuesday morning.

"That's been a lot of what this election has been: narrowing in and trying to figure out which movement is going to be the best to defeat our current administration," she said.

Other voters at the Ward 5 polling station in the city's South End weren't swayed by Sanders' revolutionary zeal. Wes Donehower, 76, said he voted for Biden because he believes that the experienced moderate would get more done as president than Sanders.

"I don't want a do-nothing administration," Donehower said. "What has [Sanders] done in the last four years? Run for president again. We hired him to be in the Senate and get stuff done. I don't see he's done a whole lot, to tell you the truth."
Grace Per Lee, 42, said she voted for Warren because she thinks the Massachusetts senator can unite a diverse group of people.

"I like what she stands for," Per Lee said. "I think she's idealistic and savvy, has a lot of energy, and just feels authentic to me."

Sanders returned to Vermont after a week of rallies in other, larger Super Tuesday states, including Warren's home state of Massachusetts, where he drew an estimated 13,000 people to a weekend rally.

As results begin to come in Tuesday night, Sanders will speak at a campaign rally at the Champlain Valley Exposition in Essex. Polls across the state close at 7 p.m.

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