PORTLAND and BANGOR, Maine — Actress Susan Sarandon walked into Becky’s Diner on Tuesday, grabbed a cup of coffee and stumped for presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders.
After pausing briefly to address the assembled press, the red-haired New York actress, known for her breakout role in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and “Thelma and Louise,” slid into a booth to chat with locals.
“This is a moment in history where we can have change, because we have a man who consistently has been in the right place when it’s not been popular,” said Sarandon, who has been crisscrossing the country to get out the vote for Sanders, the Democrat frontrunner.
When asked why she isn’t supporting Hillary Clinton, the actress had a lot to say.
“I’m concerned about the environment, and she’s taking money from fracking groups. I believe in small farms and clean food and she has taken a lot of money from Monsanto,” she said. “I don’t understand how you can reel in Wall Street when they’ve contributed so much to your platform.”
She went on to say she’d love to see a woman run the country, but “I don’t think we should compromise. We need the right woman. If it was Elizabeth Warren, I’d be totally behind her.”
Sarandon, who owns a home on Mount Desert Island, said Clinton “lost me when she voted for the war” and “when she says it’s very difficult to get a $15 minimum wage, I find that anti-single moms. I don’t believe that she is going to do anything but hold onto the way things are now.”
Seated with members of the band John Hughes Radio, Sarandon held an intimate and frank conversation that touched on everything from student loans to corruption in politics to Citizens United. The trio of musicians saw her walk in and called her over.
“She was very gracious,” said Sean Slaughter of Cape Elizabeth. “Just as you would expect.”
After lunch at Becky’s, the actress headed to Bowdoin College in Brunswick for a student rally at 4 p.m. Her next stop was for dinner about 7 p.m. at Paddy Murphy’s in Bangor.
Among those who turned up to see her was Dennis Hamrick of Bangor.
“I heard she was stumping for Bernie and having dinner here, so I thought I’d come down and see what happens,” he said.
Hamrick said he was a fan of both Sarandon and the Democratic presidential hopeful.
“I’ve been a Susan [Sarandon] fan since ‘Rocky Horror,’” said Hamrick, who is a Democrat.
With regard to Sanders, Hamrick had this to say:
“He believes in himself. He believed in it all along, and he’s stayed the course. I think our corporate democracy hasn’t worked so maybe it’s time [for a change]. I mean, we have a social democracy anyway, but maybe we need to start ripping it apart from the middle, the right way for a change.”
Sarandon, who has been on the road in support of Sanders since at least the Iowa caucus, reaffirmed that she’s doing so “because it’s the first time in my lifetime that there’s been a candidate that hasn’t taken money from big PACs, Big Pharma, from Wall Street, from Monsanto — all of the organizations and institutions that undermine a progressive campaign.”
“So starting with his vote against the war and his early civil rights record, he’s consistently on the right side of everything, not just when it’s easy or fashionable but when it’s been right,” she said while waiting for her order of mushroom soup and Irish nachos to arrive.
“So I know he’s a man of integrity, and I’m just thrilled that he’s been able to get this far without compromising his values,” she said. “I think this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance, really, to support somebody who could actually make change because he’s not already bought.”
Sarandon then headed to the University of Maine in Orono for a meet-and-greet with students at 8 p.m. On Wednesday, she will be in Houlton to speak to members of the Maliseet and Micmac tribes about why they should vote. At 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sarandon will hold a news conference with Maine Women for Bernie Sanders. She also will swing into Colby College about 2:30 p.m. and cap her Maine tour in Waterville at the Boys and Girls Club.
The Maine Democratic Caucus is March 6.