they still have the seals and elephants?” pondered Bernie Sanders
as he began his penultimate New York rally in a park he knew from
childhood trips to the zoo. “I never thought I’d be back here
speaking to 20,000 people.”
if anyone else found it incongruous to see a 74-year-old democratic
socialist from Brooklyn drawing huge hometown crowds – and ever
closer to former state senator Hillary Clinton in the opinion polls –
they were keeping it to themselves.
most regards, Sunday afternoon’s sunny appearance in Prospect Park
was a typical of the raucous rallies that the Vermont senator has
been holding for nearly a year now, though the crowd exceeded all his
previous events: 28,300 people, a record for Sanders.
senator largely picked up where he left off in Greenwich Village four
days earlier, before the frantic final round of campaigning was
interrupted by a television debate with Clinton and a whistlestop
trip to the Vatican and a meeting with the pope.
one thing does seem to have changed in recent days. A bitter TV
debate last Thursday coincided with signs that this race may be
closer than anyone anticipated, and that neither Sanders nor Clinton,
who later spoke on Staten Island, would dare leave anything to
months ago, or even 12 days ago, Sanders’ stump speech would barely
mention his opponent, or at most offer a few coded references to the
distinctions in their campaigns, such as his rejection of Super Pacs
and their differences on foreign policy.
a new poll released by Gravis on Sunday night suggests the gap
between them in New York may have narrowed to as little as six
points, with Clinton at 53% and Sanders at 47%.
still large enough apart to leave Clinton the comfortable favourite –
especially since New York primaries bar independents and even
Democrats needed to register weeks ago – it is a dramatic narrowing
from the 48-point lead Clinton enjoyed a month ago. Two other recent
polls show the gap down to 10 points, and a poll averages show a 12
Sanders wasted no time in Prospect Park. He dove into a litany of
reasons why his supporters should be suspicious of a candidate whom
he once promised not to attack with negative campaigning.
Clinton has chosen to raise her money in a different way,” the
senator began, after a typical denunciation of campaign finance
rules, and before an attack on Clinton’s support for free trade
agreements and fracking.
and her allies also drew a sharp contrast with Sanders while
traversing New York on Sunday, and homed in on the issue of gun
control as part of a sustained effort to portray the Vermont senator
as soft on gun laws.
spoke about gun violence frequently on Sunday, from a congregation in
Mt Vernon to a block party in Washington Heights to an event in
suburban Long Island, which featured retired astronaut Mark Kelly his
wife Gabby Giffords, the former congressman who was shot in the head
in the 2011 mass shooting in Arizona. A group of African American
women who lost their sons to gun violence, known as the “Mothers of
the Movement”, also campaigned for Clinton across New York over the
the Grace Baptist Church in Mt Vernon on Sunday, Clinton vowed to
take on the gun lobby while also linking gun violence to broader
criminal justice reform.
gun lobby is the most powerful lobby in Washington, in our country,”
she said. “We must stand up to the gun lobby, just as we must end
police violence and killings. They are part of the same threat that
too often injures and even kills too many young people.”
also cast herself as no less of an aggressor toward Wall Street as
Sanders. she praised Barack Obama for imposing tough regulations
against big banks after the financial crisis of 2008 and vowed to
enforce those rules as president, by prosecuting bankers if
take a backseat to no one in making sure that nothing ever happens
that hurts our people and our economy again,” she said.
the former secretary of state, with a comfortable lead with the
delegates who will decide the nomination, has also started courting
Sanders’ supporters. She rarely mentioned the senator by name, and
even while barnstorming New York on Sunday she directed her ire on
Republicans and their hostile rhetoric toward immigrants and Muslims.
an America where we are unified again,” she told supporters in
Washington Heights. “Where we stand against the hate[ful] rhetoric
coming from the Republicans, where we say to Donald Trump, ‘Basta!’”
an evening rally on Staten Island, Clinton also invoked how the city
came together after the attacks on September 11 2001, to push back
against Texas senator Ted Cruz’s mockery of “New York values.”
actually think that Staten Island values are New York values. And New
York values are American values.”
those with the time and fortitude
Sanders debate Hillary Clinton April 14, 2016. Democratic Debate in