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Sanders Tells Oregon 'We Must Defeat Donald Trump'

Danielle Peterson
Statesman Journal
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks to a crowd of thousands at Salem Armory during a campaign rally on Tuesday, May 10, 2016, in Salem.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders told an audience of thousands in Salem Tuesday night that he's the best candidate to take on apparent Republican nominee Donald Trump in the fall.

"Our campaign is generating the energy and the enthusiasm that we need to have a large voter turnout in November," Sanders told the standing-room-only crowd at the Salem Armory.

The Vermont Senator made his fourth campaign appearance in Oregon the same night he won the West Virginia primary. Even with that victory Sanders continues to trail front-runner Hillary Clinton by a wide margin in the delegate count. 

Clinton polls ahead

While Sanders has appeared this year in Portland and Springfield, Hillary Clinton hasn't visited Oregon during this election cycle. But a new poll released by Oregon Public Broadcasting and Fox 12 shows the former Secretary of State leading Sanders by a wide margin.

The poll, conducted by DHM Research, showed Clinton leading Sanders 48 percent to 33 percent among likely Democratic voters. The Democratic primary in Oregon is only open to registered Democrats.

Sanders told the audience marijuana legalization and a $15 minimum wage would be part of his agenda in the White House. And from the crowd in Oregon, where those proposals have gained traction, he got huge applause.

'He's the only hope'

Aleen Smith drove to Salem from Bend to see Sanders and said she has already cast her vote for him.

“I think this is an incredibly important campaign and it needs to win,” Smith said. “I think America is a sinking ship, and he's the only hope I see for America."

Sanders did not refer to his flagging poll numbers behind Clinton in Oregon, but he did align his campaign with hers on one point.

"While we may have many disagreements with Secretary Clinton, there is one area we agree," Sanders said. "And that is we must defeat Donald Trump."

The DHM poll showed Trump with a very wide lead in the Republican primary in Oregon. Trump's final two rivals, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, each suspended their campaigns last week, and Trump made a sweep through Oregon and Washington in advance of both states' primary elections. The deadline to vote in Oregon is May 17.