Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders urged his supporters Thursday to continue fighting for a political “revolution” in a fiery speech that made no mention of presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
In Manhattan before hundreds of supporters who crowded into a Times Square theater, Sanders vowed to fight for a progressive platform at the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia and called on his supporters to “build a grass roots movement” to “take on the establishment.”
But the forward-looking speech, billed as a “where we go from here” address, made no mention of his plans concerning Clinton, who earlier this month secured the necessary amount of state delegates to capture the nomination.
“All of you know, election days come and go, what is much more important is that political and social revolutions continue,” Sanders told supporters who packed into The Town Hall theater near Times Square.
Sanders, a U.S. Senator from Vermont, in his hourlong speech, railed against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump by name, pledging to do “everything I can” to prevent the real estate mogul from winning.
“This guy is making the cornerstone of his campaign his bigotry,” Sanders said of Trump.
Looking ahead to the July Democratic convention, Sanders said his supporters had already garnered key spots on the platform and rules committees, and would fight for a more open Democratic primary process by eliminating closed primaries and reforming the “superdelegate” system that allows party leaders to pledge their support to a candidate of their choosing at the nominating convention regardless of the primary election outcome in their state.
Sanders has long complained that Clinton’s sizable delegate lead came from the so-called “superdelegates” who endorsed the former secretary of state, even in states that he won.
“You have superdelegates not respecting the democratic will of the people, we’re going to change that,” Sanders said.
He vowed to continue fighting for issues that were central to his primary campaign including “ending income inequality,” providing free college tuition and raising the national minimum wage to $15.
Sanders said he planned on rallying behind progressive candidates throughout the country, including headlining a campaign rally in Syracuse on Friday for congressional candidate Eric Kingson.
Thursday’s speech comes amid ongoing speculation about whether he’ll concede the race to Clinton before the convention.
Sanders has previously vowed to fight for the nomination at the convention, but in an interview with C-Span on Wednesday he acknowledged it was not likely he could capture the nomination.
Sanders was often interrupted by chants of “Run Bernie Run!” Many in the animated crowd said they were not willing to vote for any other candidate, including Clinton, Trump or third-party contenders.
Kirk Voorhees, 56, a truck driver from Morris County, New Jersey, said he planned on writing-in Sanders’ name on his ballot and planned to join protesters at the July convention to call for a more “open” and “democratic” nominating process.
“I don’t see much difference between the choices we now have,” Voorhees said of Trump and Clinton.
Stephanie Illescas, 19, of East Harlem, a biology major at Hunter University voting in her first presidential election, said she was not ready to declare her support for Clinton or Trump.
“It’s crazy, I don’t understand how I got stuck with these options,” Illescas said, adding that she was drawn to Sanders for his vows to combat public corruption.