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Susan Sarandon Rallies for Sanders in Nevada as Talk of 'Women's Vote' Fight Grows

The actress made waves last month after she remarked at a Sanders benefit in New York, "I don't vote with my vagina" — a declaration that has since reverberated throughout social media by young women who support Sanders.

by Liz Fields
Feb 20 2016, 1:20am

Photo by Jae C. Hong/AP

VICE News is currently embedded with the Bernie Sanders campaign in Nevada. Follow @lianzifields for live updates in the lead-up to the Nevada caucuses on Saturday.

Reno, Nevada: The Bernie Sanders campaign enlisted Susan Sarandon in an 11th-hour attempt to energize the Vermont senator's momentum ahead of the opening of Nevada's caucuses on Saturday. The actress made waves last month after she remarked at a Sanders benefit in New York, "I don't vote with my vagina" — a declaration that has since reverberated throughout social media by young women who support Sanders.

On Friday, the New York-based actor introduced the candidate at an afternoon campaign rally held at the Nugget Casino Resort before heading out to lead a "Women for Bernie" event at a local bar. 

"Change is hard. There's never been anything that was of any consequence that came easily. Everything had to be fought for," Sarandon said at the rally, referring to the struggles for women's suffrage and desegregation in the South. "We can do it — there's no reason we can't do it if we stick together."

Sarandon is among a group of surrogates who flew to Nevada this week to campaign for Sanders ahead of the first-in-the-West caucuses, as relative support between the candidates among women has become a hot-button issue. In the last primary contest in New Hampshire, Sanders won 53 percent of the female vote compared to Clinton's 46 percent, according to ABC News exit polls. Younger women in particular gravitated toward the senator, who garnered 69 percent of votes from women under 45. Earlier in Iowa, exit polls showed women aged 18 to 29 voted for Sanders over Clinton by a margin of roughly six to one.

Related: The Feminist Backlash Isn't Helping Hillary Clinton with Young Women

In the days leading up to the New Hampshire primary, Hillary Clinton received some negative press after two feminist icons made controversial remarks about women voters. Gloria Steinem suggested in a televised appearance with Bill Maher that younger women supported Sanders "because the boys are with Bernie," while former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told a rally of Clinton adherents, "There's a special place in hell for women who don't help each other!"

Their support might have otherwise renewed Clinton's waning image with young women, who along with young males are increasingly leaning toward the Bernie Sanders campaign, but instead inflamed an online backlash against themselves and their candidate. Both ended up apologizing for their remarks.

In the wake of Steinem's comment, Kristie Blickman, a graduate student from Indianapolis, told VICE News that if Clinton became the first female president, it would be "a huge moment in our history" — but noted that she does not "agree with this type of manipulation."

"We need to support young women and lead by example, not insult them or act as if they lack judgment and insight," she said.

Sanders addressed the issue at a town hall in Las Vegas on Thursday, referring to Gloria Steinem in an attempt to bolster his feminist (and feminine?) credentials.

"I consider myself a strong feminist," he remarked. "In fact, Gloria Steinem — everybody knows Gloria as one of the leading feminists in America — made me [an] honorary woman many, many years ago. I don't know exactly what that meant, but I accepted it when she came to campaign for me."

Since announcing her run for presidency last April, Clinton — who once described herself as a "glass ceiling cracker" on her Twitter profile — has enlisted numerous celebrities and women's groups o rally for the so-called "women's vote," from Lena Dunham and Gloria Steinem to members of Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America. The former secretary of state has emphasized countless times on the stump that her supporters have a chance to make history by electing the first woman president. 

But some women have responded that while that would be a point of pride, they will vote based on policy rather than gender. 

"It feels like Hillary is fighting hard for the women's vote," said Marissa Bennett, a 37-year-old family therapist intern from Los Angeles. "Bernie is fighting hard to do the right thing for we the people, and I support him. I'm not just a demographic."

"The polls show the reality of who is supporting Bernie, and a huge portion happen to be younger women," said another ardent Sanders booster, 33-year-old Tanya Tibbets, a tech support worker from Florida. "Hillary isn't right for us. We'll wait for another woman to become president, one like Senator Elizabeth Warren."

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