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Donald Trump’s appeals to Bernie Sanders backers fall flat

Sen. Bernie Sanders looks on after the Vermont

Sen. Bernie Sanders looks on after the Vermont delegation cast their votes during roll call on the second day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 26, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Credit: AFP/Getty Images / NICHOLAS KAMM

Donald Trump’s courting of Bernie Sanders’ followers appears to be bearing little fruit, with many Sanders backers saying the ideological gulf is too deep.

From opposite ends of the political spectrum, Trump and Sanders have railed against the corrosive effect of Wall Street money on the political system, and free trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

But a CNN/ORC poll last week showed only 6 percent of Sanders backers would vote for Trump and his vice presidential nominee, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. Ninety-one percent said they would support Democrat Hillary Clinton and her running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine.

Many Sanders supporters say Clinton or Green Party candidate Jill Stein would be better on the issues they care about — including women’s’ rights, immigration, the environment and the economy — than Trump.

“Trump is the antithesis of everything that Bernie Sanders represents and stands for,” said New York City Council Member Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx), who endorsed Sanders but says he will vote for Clinton in November. “Donald Trump’s campaign is built on exclusion. It’s not a choice between Hillary and Trump. It’s a choice between democracy and Trump.”

Carmen Hulbert, 66, of Red Hook, Brooklyn, a Sanders delegate, said she feels “betrayed” by Sanders, who urged his backers at the Democratic National Convention to support Clint, but will vote for Stein.

“Donald Trump says too many things that totally don’t make sense,” Hulbert said. “He doesn’t understand the crowd that follows Bernie Sanders.”

But Trump continues to court Sanders backers, saying he has he has much in common with the Vermont U.S. senator, who ran a strong primary campaign against Clinton.

Trump, a wealthy Manhattan real estate developer, cites his own campaign against open trade deals and what he calls a “rigged” election system.

Trump, for instance, appeared to sympathize with Sanders when leaked emails showed Democratic National Committee officials appearing to favor Clinton over Sanders during the primary.

“The Bernie people had spirit,” Trump said at a rally last Thursday in Maine. “Do we have Bernie Sanders people here? We’re going to get a lot of Bernie Sanders votes because of trade.”

But some high-profile Sanders supporters now are backing Hillary Clinton over Trump. Robert Reich, who served as Secretary of Labor under former President Bill Clinton, is one.

“If you don’t get behind Hillary you increase the odds that Donald Trump will be president,” Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, wrote on his website. “That would be a disaster for America and the world.”

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