Political activist and Academy Award-winning actress Susan Sarandon spoke to an intimate crowd at the University of Maine on Feb. 23 to show her support for Bernie Sanders in the upcoming 2016 Presidential Election.
About 250 people filled a Neville Hall classroom for the event which, was thrown together at the last minute, according to Rep. Troy Jackson, Sanders’ Maine political director. Jackson said he was impressed with the turnout, despite the lack of notice.
People of all ages were in attendance, adorned with stickers and signs supporting the Vermont senator. Danielle Chrissman, one of Sanders’ regional field directors, said that people need to take action to get Sanders elected.
“We need to act, we need to be knocking on doors,” Chrissman said. “We cannot win Maine without that work. We can’t win for Bernie without that work.”
Sarandon shared a fond memory of Sanders that swayed her opinion on the Democrat. The speech she referenced was given in October 2002, and was in opposition of the Iraq War.
“I remember falling in a heap of tears on my living room floor,” Sarandon said. “He came through for those of us who were suffering.”
Sarandon urged listeners to participate in the Sanders campaign, saying that this is a great chance for people to receive something from the government.
“He’s just a guy, he believes in us,” Sarandon said. “This is our chance to participate and we get something back.”
Sarandon did a quick question and answer session after her speech. She was asked if she saw Hillary Clinton being able to take down the Republican candidate if she was given the Democratic candidacy.
“Seriously, I think I could take down the GOP,” Sarandon said. “I think Trump has been doing well, I feel like I’m at a wedding and the drunk uncle is up there. But, he’s running out of material.”
One Sanders skeptic, third-year student Michael Shea, was met with hostility after he asked how Sanders planned on paying for all the programs he is pushing, such as free college. His questioning was quickly shut down by Sarandon and other members of the audience. He was escorted out of the hall.
“I was not surprised by the fact that the audience was upset with me asking a challenging but necessary question,” Shea said in an email. “I knew this would happen, but I had to ask the question anyway as these matters are very important to me and to many others.”
Shea said he had not received any attention outside of the rally.
Sarandon spoke earlier the same day at Bowdoin College in Brunswick and on Feb. 24 at Colby College in Waterville. Jackson said that Sanders has no plan to come to the UMaine. Maine’s Democratic caucus will take place on March 6.