Actress Susan Sarandon began a two-day tour of Maine on Tuesday campaigning for presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, less than two weeks before the state’s Democratic caucuses.

Her first stop was at Becky’s Diner in Portland, before she headed to Bowdoin College in Brunswick, then the University of Maine in Orono.

Her plans for Wednesday include stops in Houlton, Augusta and Waterville.

Sarandon, an Oscar winner and liberal activist, stumped for Sanders last month in Iowa, less than a week before the caucuses there, and last week in Nevada. Maine’s Democratic caucuses will take place on March 6. The Republican caucuses are March 5.

“I hope to encourage (voters) to keep up their support for Bernie and take part in the caucus,” she said in explaining her tour of the state, before sitting down to eat at Becky’s. The diner is an institution on the Portland waterfront, known for catering to lobstermen and fishermen and for attracting politicians of all stripes who want to shake the hands of voters and pose for news cameras.

Sarandon, who has a house on Mount Desert Island, said she’s a frequent visitor to Maine and noted her appreciation for the food scene. The 69-year-old actress has had a long career, starring in many movies, including the cult classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Thelma & Louise,” in which she played Louise, and “Dead Man Walking,” for which she won the Academy Award for best actress.

On the subject of Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, Sarandon talked about his refusal to accept big-money donations and his record of making tough decisions. She said she believes residents of this state will look deeply at the issues before choosing a candidate. “I think people in Maine are independent thinkers as a breed,” she said.

Part of that, she said, is not feeling pressure to vote for Sanders’ Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, simply because she is a woman.

“If that were true, then we should all be backing Sarah Palin,” she said.

Inside the diner, Sarandon sat down with three Sanders supporters who were having breakfast when she arrived.

She had a cup of coffee while talking to the men, members of a local band, about the candidate and about Maine.

One of them, Mat Zimmerman, 42, of Portland, happened to be watching “Enchanted,” a 2007 movie starring Sarandon, with his daughter that morning.

“Freaky coincidence,” he said.

Sarandon then briefly spoke with two women who said they support Clinton over Sanders, but were still excited to meet the actress.

“I think it’s wonderful to see someone here in the state promoting what she believes in. That’s what we’re all about,” said Valerie Kazarian, 64, of Portland.

The two Democratic candidates came to Maine last summer before turning their focus to the key early primary and caucus states.

Sanders drew roughly 7,000 people to a July rally at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland.

Clinton, a former U.S. senator from New York and former secretary of state, held a smaller organizing rally in Portland in September. About 400 people attended that event at King Middle School.

The Clinton campaign has been ramping up its efforts as well. The campaign held an event Sunday with Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine.

Stephanie Schriock, president of Emily’s List, which works to get female pro-choice Democratic candidates elected, planned to speak at the campaign’s Lewiston office Tuesday evening.


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