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On Sanders' home turf, Biden has plenty of supporters too

  • Catherine Triomphe

    Agence France-Presse

Burlington, United States   /   Thu, March 5, 2020   /   09:49 am
On Sanders' home turf, Biden has plenty of supporters too Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former Vice President Joe Biden participate in the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. Seven candidates qualified for the debate, hosted by CBS News and Congressional Black Caucus Institute, ahead of South Carolinas primary in four days. (AFP/Win McNamee/Getty Images)

In Bernie Sanders' Vermont stronghold, leftists say they could vote for once-again Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden, backing him as a "charming" guy capable of reducing tensions in America.

From the Green Mountain State, self-described democratic socialist Sanders has spent 40 years denouncing the Democratic establishment -- including Biden, who he links to Wall Street billionaires and other interest groups.

But Super Tuesday voting suggested many in Vermont feel that the pragmatism of Biden has a better chance of defeating Donald Trump in November than the progressive idealism of Sanders.

Sanders easily won on his home turf, as expected, but he did so by a much smaller margin than in 2016. He took 50.7 percent of votes, down from 86.1 percent four years ago.

Across the 14 states that voted on Tuesday, Biden won 10 of them, with Sanders picking up just three. The race in California was still up in the air, with Sanders leading.

"I am personally disappointed," said Bobby Lussier, a 22-year-old Sanders voter.

"But I kind of have to accept that the rest of the country is coalescing around a different candidate," he told AFP.

Lussier, who works in environmental protection, said he was not yet ready to give up on a Sanders candidacy but said he would back Biden if he wins the nomination.

He considers Biden a "career politician" and is hesitant to trust him, but admits there is something about Barack Obama's vice president that is appealing.

"I think he is very charming, I can understand why he has a lot of support. 

"He has a really amazing story," added Lussier, referring to the death of Biden's first wife and daughter in a car crash in 1972 and the death of son Beau from brain cancer in 2015.

Less conciliatory is 28-year-old Melanie G, who is fiercely pro-Sanders and continues to denounce the "status quo" that Biden represents.

'Experience' 

But Melanie, who did not disclose her last name, concedes she would still vote for him against Trump.

"He is  the lesser of two evils," she told AFP.

Shawnna Lea Zeranek, a 41-year-old project coordinator for a software company, said she voted for Biden on Tuesday.

"I was really happy with the Obama administration and so as much as there has been some complaints about Joe Biden himself, I have faith he spent eight years with a man who did a really good job and I think he could continue that," she told AFP.

Thirty-eight-year-old Scott Gale, who runs an internet advertising company, has also come to terms with the idea of voting for Biden. 

Gale would have preferred Pete Buttigieg, the young former mayor from Indiana, but he pulled out of the race on Sunday and backed Biden after a poor result in the South Carolina primary.

"He is not a fantastic orator," Gale said of Biden, who has appeared confused at times on the campaign trail and made several odd remarks.

"I'd love to have someone who doesn't have these gaffes. But I think he has the right heart for the job. He has a lot of experience and I think he would be capable of trying to pull the country together."

As many voters do, Gale also likes that Biden regularly smiles.

"When I see Trump touring factories and stuff, he is always very serious. I like seeing a smile on the president's face from time to time," he said.