Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders stumped Sunday before thousands of supporters against the backdrop of Brooklyn’s iconic Coney Island boardwalk, a symbol of resilience after superstorm Sandy.
The U.S. senator from Vermont — trailing rival Hillary Clinton by double digits in recent polls of New York voters — touched on themes familiar to his staunchest supporters.
He railed against the country’s wealthiest residents and said expanded Social Security benefits and pay parity between men and women could help improve the economic realities of the working class.
He spoke to sustained cheers from the crowd of mostly young people who braved the oceanside chill and hourslong wait to see him.
Sanders made only passing references to New York, which holds its primary April 19.
He congratulated the state for enacting a $15 minimum wage.
And the Flatbush, Brooklyn, native reminisced about swimming at Coney Island beaches as a youth and joked that he has “eaten half the hot dogs that Nathan’s produced.” After the rally, he stopped by the mainstay eatery for a wiener with sauerkraut.
Otherwise, his speech — lasting nearly an hour — centered on combating income inequality.
“A great nation is judged by how we treat the weakest and most vulnerable people among us,” he said.
His backers listened raptly in the shadow of the Parachute Jump, a former amusement park ride that still stands along the boardwalk, waving signs that read “A Future to Believe In.”
It was the seventh public event in the city for Sanders in the past three days. On Monday, he will campaign in central New York, making four stops at cities with college campuses.
Vlady Kozubnyak, 20, a college student from Coney Island, praised the senator’s consistency on issues over the decades, citing Sanders’ arrest in the 1960s at a civil rights demonstration protesting segregation in Chicago schools.
“He’s been steady the whole time,” Kozubnyak said. “He’s been a protester the whole time.”
But Kozubnyak said he is concerned about the delegate math, which favors Clinton, and was bracing for a loss.
Sanders slammed Clinton for raising funds from political action committees and delivering big-dollar speeches on Wall Street.
The former secretary of state, who spoke at a Queens church Sunday, has said those speeches would have no impact on how she would conduct herself as president and that it was common practice for high-profile officials to get paid for speeches.