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Sanders in Albany talks of how to ‘transform America’

ALBANY – Bernie Sanders said Friday he is working with Hillary Clinton’s campaign to see if the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee “can come up with some very serious proposals to transform America.’’

The Vermont senator returned again to Albany, using a speech here to lay out some of his asks – or demands – that he wants included in the Democratic Party’s platform at next month’s presidential convention in Philadelphia.

“What we are trying to do also is come up with the most progressive platform that the Democrats have ever had,’’ Sanders told a small, though supportive, audience. He said he wants that platform to be more than “just words” but also then incorporated in the Democrats’ policy agenda for Congress.

Billed as “where we go from here” speech, Sanders used the gathering to thank his supporters – he won Albany County in the spring primary – and press for his cause to continue after the convention.

“Struggle and victory is not easy. We’ve got to keep going. What this campaign has accomplished is just opening up the doors to a process that we must, must, must continue. And that’s why I’m here today,’’ Sanders said.

Gone were the crowds that could fill an area with thousands of cheering supporters.

On Friday, he was in a small, state-owned theater with a capacity to hold several hundred people located a few hundred yards from the state Capitol.

Seeming subdued at times, Sanders spent part of his speech looking back at a ride that brought him out of national obscurity into a political phenomenon. He talked of the rallies he led that, in all, attracted 1.5 million people, and his campaign’s efforts to rally backers through social media and an aggressive fundraising strategy aimed at small donors.

Sanders has, so far, dismissed the idea of ending his bid, insisting he wants his campaign to have a role in the party platform that comes out of the Democrats’ convention next month in Philadelphia.

He suggested an idea or two Friday, such as a platform he says he is confident will include support for a nationwide $15 per hour minimum wage. He suggested strong environmental protections be in the platform, as well as a $1 trillion plan to improve the nation’s infrastructure problems.

Earlier Friday, Sanders said “yes” when asked on MSNBC if he will vote for Clinton in the November general election. “I think the issue right here is I’m gonna do everything I can to defeat Donald Trump,’’ he said.

Clinton has already captured, with the help of super delegates, several hundred more delegates than the 2,383 needed to win the party’s nomination.

Sanders reminded his audience that they should not consider themselves political radicals. “The ideas that we are talking about have become mainstream ideas. They are the ideas, in fact, supported by the vast majority of people.’’

Sanders lashed out at what he called New York’s “corrupt system” of laws and rules that reduce voter participation in elections; he cited, specifically, the long time period ahead of a primary in which voters must change their party registration if they want to vote. “Clearly, you have to knock down a lot of barriers,’’ Sanders said.

For much of the speech, Sanders ticked off a number of major themes: railing against rising poverty levels as extreme wealth flows to a smaller select few Americans, expanding educational opportunities regardless of income levels, lowering costs of health care insurance.

Sanders talked of a legacy he wants to leave at the end of his campaign. He urged the audience members to consider getting directly involved in government service, and said he’s willing to help expand the number of progressives running for small local offices to Congress.

“My message to is that we need all over this country thousands and thousands of good people to jump into the political process and we are prepared to work with you to try to make that happen. Ultimately, that is what the political revolution is about. Because the political revolution is you,’’ Sanders said.

Sanders was due in Syracuse later this afternoon.