Rhode Island Senator James Sheehan (D-36) broke ranks with Rhode Island’s Democratic Party, endorsing U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for President and disavowing establishment mindsets. Sheehan was out on the stump in Rhode Island on primary day, getting out the vote for Sanders.
“Hillary Clinton thinks small,” said Sheehan in an interview on Sunday in Providence. “We think big here in this campaign.”
When asked about his endorsement of Sanders and reasoning for moving away from the Rhode Island Congressional delegation, Gov. Gina Raimondo, and the state Democratic Party candidate, former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton, Sheehan said he was concerned first about his constituents and the American people.
“Well, I’m not part of the gang,” he said. “I’m part of a campaign that wants to put the people’s interest first.” – Sen. James Sheehan (D-Dist. 36)
Sheehan noted Sanders grassroots support, calling attention to the more than 7,000 people in attendance at the Sanders rally at the Temple to Music in Roger Williams Park. “It was definitely a respectful turnout,” the Senator said.
Sheehan also noted the Clinton campaign’s decision to send former Pres. Bill Clinton back to Rhode Island on the heels of the Secretary’s visit on Saturday and his appearance the week before. Polls released over the weekend showed Sanders with a 4-point lead in Rhode Island and challenging Clinton in a neck and neck battle for Connecticut.
“They must be nervous,” Sheehan said.
The senator who represents the towns of Narragansett and North Kingstown in the southern part of the state, presented an ideology reflective of recent comments made by Vice President Joe Biden about Sanders and his campaign.
Biden, in an interview with New York Times columnist John Harwood, said ““I like the idea of saying, ‘We can do much more,’ because we can.”
“I don’t think any Democrat’s ever won saying, ‘We can’t think that big — we ought to really downsize here because it’s not realistic,’ ”the Vice President told Harwood. “C’mon man, this is the Democratic Party! I’m not part of the party that says, ‘Well, we can’t do it.’ ”
Biden has from the beginning of Sanders campaign been complimentary of the Vermont senator, his ethics and congressional record.
Sheehan likes Sanders style, too.
“Thinking outside of the box is what we need in this country,” said Sheehan. “And if we don’t do that we’re not ever going to change.”
Polls are open in Rhode Island until 8 p.m. Voters are encouraged to check with their local Board of Canvassers before heading out to the polls as locations may have changed.
Rhode Island joins Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania in Tuesday’s 5-state primary.