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'Bernie or bust' protesters say Trump's appeals won't win them over

PHILADELPHIA — Bernie Sanders supporter Ryan Fowler sees a clear reason not to back Donald Trump despite his appeals to disillusioned voters on the left.

"Trump speaks to fear and anger and he is a demagogue. It's really hard to have a demagogue appeal to Bernie people," the 26-year-old from New Hampshire said Tuesday.

Republican presidential nominee Trump has tried to court spurned Democrats who do not want to vote for the party's presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton. Many who voted for Sanders in primary elections feel Clinton represents special interests and effectively locked up the primary before it started. That belief was exacerbated by recently leaked emails that showed some Democratic officials preferred Clinton over the senator from Vermont.

Supporters of Bernie Sanders gather in Philadelphia on July 26, 2016.
Jacob Pramuk | CNBC
Supporters of Bernie Sanders gather in Philadelphia on July 26, 2016.

While Sanders and the bombastic Trump stand far apart on many issues, both have consistently railed against entrenched politicians and trade deals that they say hurt American workers. Trump made his latest appeal Monday night after Sanders' endorsement of Clinton and call for party unity to defeat Trump.


Fowler and several other Sanders backers who gathered in 90-degree heat here Tuesday believe Trump's recent olive branches to Sanders voters will fall flat. However, the activists who showed up here may not capture the feelings of all the roughly 12 million people who voted for Sanders in the Democratic primaries.

Near a "Bernie or bust" rally across from Philadelphia City Hall on Tuesday, Fowler said he will vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein rather than Clinton or Trump. Lisa LeVally Evans, another protester from Ohio, said she is "afraid" of both major party candidates and could never bring herself to vote for Trump.

"I think the true Bernie supporters can never do that," Evans said, adding that she plans to vote for Stein.

Joel Bradshaw, a 39-year-old lifelong Democrat, said he could not support Trump because of his rhetoric.

"We need less borders in this world, not more," he said.

Most Sanders voters will still likely support Clinton in November. But if some vote for Stein or abstain altogether, they could indirectly aid Trump by sapping votes away from Clinton.