Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein appealed to the younger generation during a campaign stop at the University of Southern Maine on Wednesday, saying she would tax Wall Street or cut the military budget to wipe out the nation’s $1.4 trillion in student loan debt and provide free public higher education.

“Who led the charge on labor or civil rights? On Black Lives Matter or immigrant justice or climate justice? It’s always the younger generation that is leading the charge,” Stein told about 200 people at Hannaford Hall. “So we need to hurry up and liberate you, so you can lead the way for all of us.”

Stein was in Maine Wednesday for stops at USM and the University of Maine in Orono following recent stops in New Hampshire and Vermont.

A Portland Press Herald poll conducted in June found that while Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton led Republican candidate Donald Trump among likely voters, both were viewed unfavorably by a majority of likely voters. Nearly 20 percent of the poll’s respondents said they would vote for someone else. Both Stein and Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for president, have been running as alternatives to Clinton and Trump.

Former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders cast a long shadow over the event. Stein has struggled to draw the kind of crowds and support enjoyed by the popular Vermont senator, and has appealed to his supporters to join her campaign.

Stein ran for president in 2012 and received 1 percent of the vote in Maine, her strongest showing that year in terms of percentage of the popular vote, The Associated Press reported. Nationally, she received just over one-third of a percent of the vote in 2012.


On Wednesday, Stein made a point of thanking Sanders supporters and described her campaign as “Bernie Sanders’ campaign on steroids” since she goes further in supporting breaking up the big banks, cutting the military budget and closing the roughly 800 military bases overseas.

She rejected the thinking that supporting a third candidate could upset the outcome of a Clinton-Trump race.

“It’s time for us to stand up and reject the lesser evil and fight for the greater good like our lives depend on it, because they do,” she said.

That fired up Caitrin Smith, 24, who said Stein struck her as “a candidate of the people.”

“I like Democrats, but I didn’t see them doing anything,” said Smith, a behavioral health professional in the Portland schools. “I’ll be voting Stein.”

Several members of the audience said they started out as Sanders supporters.


“I want to be part of the (Democratic) Party. I’m still a Democrat. But I’m absolutely behind the Stein campaign,” said Justin Beth, who was a Maine delegate for Sanders at the Democratic convention this summer but now volunteers for Stein.

Seth Berner of Portland, who also was a Sanders delegate, said he was at the event “to listen.”

“I am completely supportive of Jill Stein’s platform,” said Berner, wearing a Sanders shirt. “I totally despise Hillary Clinton.”

Even so, he feels pressure to vote for her.

“I feel like I have a responsibility to people who would be much worse off under Trump. It doesn’t mean I’m supporting Clinton. It means I’m being held hostage.”

“I would rather have to demonstrate against Hillary Clinton than find ourselves having to demonstrate against Donald Trump,” said Cynthia Soma-Hernandez, who also was a Sanders delegate.


Beth, a radiation health physicist, said the idea of Trump or Clinton winning scares him.

“I am about as equally terrified of either presidency – a Clinton presidency or a Trump presidency,” said Beth, 42, of Portland. He said he’s supporting Stein because he thinks there is a “real possibility” of putting someone in power that has a really progressive platform.”

So far, Stein volunteers in Maine have been tabling at fairs and events, doing occasional “sign waving” at passing motorists at Monument Square and other locations, phone banking and door-to-door campaigning to spread the word about Stein.


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