WATERVILLE — Actress Susan Sarandon, campaigning for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, took a jab at Republican contenders Wednesday when she told Colby College students that she could beat any of them in the 2016 race.

The comment came during a question-and-answer session in which a student asked Sarandon whether she thought Sanders, a Vermont senator running in the Democratic primary against Hillary Clinton, would fare well in a general election. She said Democratic voters should not worry about who the Republican nominee for president is.

“I think I could beat any of the candidates on the other side,” Sarandon, an Academy Award-winning actress and political activist, said light-heartedly.

Sarandon, who wrapped up a two-day tour of Maine on Wednesday campaigning for Sanders, followed up her comment by saying that a key to Sanders’ success both in the general election and in securing the Democratic nomination is voter turnout and getting supporters to participate in the political process. Maine Democrats caucus March 6 to pick delegates for the Democratic convention and choose their preference for a candidate.

“He is electable,” Sarandon said of Sanders. “If you look at the polls and at his average campaign contribution — $27 — that shows how many people have managed to keep him afloat, and volunteers and young people. The important thing is there has to be a large turnout and people have to stay involved.”

Before Wednesday’s question-and-answer session, Sarandon spoke for about 10 minutes to an attentive but low-key audience of about 250 people, most of them college students. She said that one of the biggest reasons she is supporting Sanders is his opposition to the Iraq War in 2003.


“There were very few people who passed that foreign policy test and at least voted to slow down or raised their hands and said, ‘Wait a minute,'” Sarandon said.

She also touched on health care, affordable college and pressure that women might feel to support a female presidential candidate.

“I think for a lot of women, making the choice to vote for Bernie is not an easy one because there’s a lot of pressure on women to go with the female candidate,” Sarandon said. “I would love to see a woman president — Elizabeth Warren, someone like that would be my choice in two seconds.”

Sarandon, who is known for her roles in films such as “Dead Man Walking,” “Thelma & Louise” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” also has made a name as a liberal political activist speaking on a variety of social and human rights issues.

On Tuesday she also made stops in Brunswick, Orono and Portland, and she was scheduled to appear Wednesday night at the opening of a campaign office for Sanders in Augusta following her appearance at Colby.

Jane Wiesenberg, president of the Colby Democrats, said that while the club is not endorsing a candidate in the 2016 race, its members were excited that the Sanders campaign contacted them about bringing Sarandon to campus.


“This is such an important election and one where voters in Maine, which is one of the earlier states to caucus, can really make a difference,” said Wiesenberg, a senior from Westchester, New York. “There is an opportunity to really turn the tide.”

Many students at Colby said Wednesday that they are interested in the presidential race and plan to vote, even if they haven’t decided who it will be for.

“I came just on an impulse,” said Emma Howard, a Democrat from Philadelphia. “It was nice hearing an argument from someone who is informed. It definitely gave me some persuasive reasons (to vote for Sanders).”

Gray Louis, a senior from Boston who attended Wednesday’s event holding a sign in support of Sanders, described himself as a “big fan” of the Vermont senator.

“He seems more genuine then a lot of candidates,” said Louis, an independent. “I think that’s the biggest problem right now in Washington, D.C., that too many people are there to represent their own self-interest and not the interest of their constituents.”

Wiesenberg, head of the Colby Democrats, said she personally supports Clinton, though she also agreed with some of the comments made by Sarandon.


“Bernie Sanders has a lot of big ideas that seem attractive, such as free college,” Wiesenberg said. “That sounds great, but I think people have to recognize that it may not be practical when put into practice. I know Bernie Sanders has pointed to the fact that other countries have done it, but what works in other countries might not work in the United States.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368


Twitter: @rachel_ohm


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