AUSTIN – As voters made their way to the polls Saturday in South Carolina — where Bernie Sanders was expected to get trounced in the Democratic presidential primary — the candidate was 1,000 miles away, in what seemed an alternate universe.
More than 10,000 adoring supporters showed up and cheered the Vermont senator’s every sentence at an outdoor rally on a gorgeous day here. Sanders boasted about how he was going to beat Donald Trump “soundly” in the general election.
And before leaving stage, he was beaming as he sang “This Land is Your Land” with the daughter of Willie Nelson and granddaughter of Woody Guthrie.
During his remarks, Sanders had plenty to say about elections – just not the one taking place Saturday.
He recounted his near-tie in the Iowa caucuses, his big win in the New Hampshire primary and his come-from-behind five-percentage-point loss in Nevada.
“And now we come to Super Tuesday!” Sanders said, skipping over South Carolina’s place on the calendar.
Texas is one of 11 states holding Democratic primaries and caucuses on Tuesday. Despite polls suggesting the Lone Star State is not one of Sanders’s better targets, he sounded an optimistic note about his chances.
“If all of you come out to vote and you bring your friends and your neighbors and your co-workers, we are going to win here in Texas,” Sanders said.
Some of Sanders’s biggest cheers came when talked about taking on Donald Trump in the general election. Sanders said the Republican front-runner is someone who insults “anyone who is not like Donald Trump.”
“We will defeat Trump because our campaign is bringing people together,” Sanders said.
The Vermont senator didn’t entirely look past Clinton, though. As he has been with increasingly frequency of late, Sanders got in a few jabs, including a reference to Clinton’s reluctance to make public the transcripts of paid speeches she gave to Wall Street firms.
“Why don’t you make those transcripts public?” Sanders asked.
Upon leaving the rally, Sanders headed to the airport, where his chartered jet was waiting to take him to another rally in the Dallas area. Later Saturday, he plans to fly to Minnesota for another campaign stop.
According to his itinerary, he is likely to be in the air when the South Carolina polls close.