WATERVILLE — Voters who were entering or leaving the polls Tuesday afternoon got an unexpected surprise when they discovered actress and activist Susan Sarandon had stopped by to campaign for her favorite presidential candidate.

Sarandon’s stop on Super Tuesday came as she stumped for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the independent from Vermont who is seeking the Democratic nomination.

“He is the only candidate that’s not taking dark money and the only candidate that is talking about systemic change,” Sarandon said.

In an interview outside the polls, Sarandon said she has traveled to several states, including Iowa, Ohio and the Carolinas, listening to people’s concerns about water quality, health care, prescription drugs, student debt and climate change.

She said she has also spoken with people trying to run small businesses but who are unable due to the cost of insurance.

Actress and activist Susan Sarandon speaks Tuesday outside the Waterville polling station at The Elm at 21 College Ave. Sarandon was in the city stumping for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the Democratic presidential primary.

In addition to Sanders, Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Tulsi Gabbard and Elizabeth Warren were on the Democratic ballot in Maine as they seek the party’s nomination to oppose President Donald Trump, the only candidate on the Republican ballot.

“I feel we’re in an emergency situation and we’re past middle solutions,” Sarandon said. “Candidates who have been running as middle, no-change candidates have lost. I feel Trump is a very, very dangerous president and we have to defeat him. Bernie has the strongest chance of defeating him.”

She said Sanders is energizing the half of Americans who did not vote in the 2016 election, including young people, those of color and the working poor.

“You have his consistency, his record to bear witness, his intentions and his ability to make the change to move this country ahead and come together,” Sarandon said.

Sarandon, 73, is no stranger to Maine. She has owned a cabin on Mount Desert Island for 40 years and is connected to the state, she said.

Sarandon won an Oscar for best actress in 1996 for the film “Dead Man Walking.” She has starred in many films, including “Thelma and Louise,” “Atlantic City” and “Bull Durham.”

As a child growing up in Queens, New York, the oldest of nine children, her family camped in Maine in the summer and her father rented the cabin she later would buy so he could retire there, she said.

He eventually died in the cabin and both her father’s and her brother’s ashes are buried at Long Pond on the western part of Mount Desert, she said.

On Tuesday, Sarandon spoke with several voters as they entered or left The Elm at 21 College Ave.

Actress and activist Susan Sarandon, left, talks Tuesday with voter Lea Joseph Williams of Waterville at the polling station at The Elm at 21 College Ave. Sarandon was in the city stumping for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the Democratic presidential primary.

Lea Joseph Williams, a retired teacher and assistant principal, greeted Sarandon and they had a lengthy discussion after Williams asked Sarandon why she supports Sanders.

Sarandon said the country cannot afford to have a centrist in office, and centrists have lost in the past. Sanders, she said, is not owned by big money.

“We know that we own Bernie,” she said. “We are the only ones that have donated to his campaign.”

Williams asked Sarandon if Sanders, should he win the nomination, would choose one of the other Democratic candidates as the vice presidential candidate.

“I know he wants to choose a woman,” Sarandon said. “That’s the only thing I know, and he’s waiting to see how things turn out.”

With Sarandon on Tuesday was state Rep. Benjamin Collings, D-Portland, who was traveling with his 4-month-old husky, Cloud, an energetic, pure-white dog.

State Rep. Ben Collings, D-Portland, is kissed by his dog, Cloud, after Collings and Susan Sarandon arrived Tuesday at the Waterville polling station at The Elm at 21 College Ave. in Waterville. Sarandon was in the city stumping for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the Democratic presidential primary.

Collings, the state director for Bernie 2020 Maine, said Sarandon spent time in Portland on Monday, attended a concert featuring the Maine group the Mallett Brothers Band and visited employees of both American Roots Wear in Westbrook and Bath Iron Works in Bath. She had lunch at Wild Oats, a popular eatery in Brunswick.

After visiting with voters outside the Waterville polls Tuesday, Sarandon was to visit Selah Tea, an eatery in downtown Waterville.

Collings said it appears Sarandon has many fans and admirers.

“She draws people in,” he said. “She gives them the facts. They’re glad that she’s here because she can set the record straight about issues.”

 

 

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