NEW YORK (AP) — Bernie Sanders, the Vermont U.S. senator who stoked liberal passions nationwide as a Democratic candidate in last year's presidential contest, stepped into New York politics for a day on Monday, casting first-term Mayor Bill de Blasio as the antidote to the "un-American" leadership of President Donald Trump.
Everything de Blasio is trying to do is "the opposite" of what Trump is trying to do, a fiery Sanders declared at a de Blasio campaign rally in Manhattan.
"Trump, in an extremely un-American, ugly and almost unprecedented way, unprecedented way, is trying to divide us up, based on the color of our skin or our religion, or the country we came from or our sexual orientation," Sanders said. "And this mayor is leading this city in a way to bring us together."
Sanders' appearance came as de Blasio worked to energize voters just eight days before New York's mayoral election. The Democratic mayor is expected to cruise to victory against a little-known Republican opponent, but there are signs of malaise among some supporters.
For a night, at least, Sanders changed that.
Sanders, a democratic socialist who was born and raised in Brooklyn, earned hero status in last year's presidential contest despite losing the Democratic Party's nomination to Hillary Clinton. He helped draw hundreds of voters, many in their 20s and 30s, to a crowded music hall just a mile from Trump's longtime residence on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue.
With de Blasio and his wife looking on, Sanders repeatedly slammed the Republican president, who has dubbed him "Crazy Bernie." Slamming Trump was a theme de Blasio welcomed.
"We will stand up to Donald Trump every single day," de Blasio vowed. "So long as he's in the White House, this city cannot be as fair as it needs to be unless we take him on."
The speakers were clearly concerned about next week's turnout. While few political observers expect the mayor to lose re-election, Sanders and de Blasio repeatedly called for a huge turnout to help send a message to Washington.
"Bernie taught us in too many ways, the system is still rigged," de Blasio said.
"This is your city," he added. "It doesn't belong to the titans of Wall Street. And lord knows it does not belong to Donald Trump."