That Time Bernie Sanders Stopped by a Disco Brunch

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders visits Santa Monica Pier, June 5, 2016.PlayChristina House /Los Angeles Times / Polaris
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Cycling, brunch, the beach. Bernie Sanders had quite the “Sunday Fun-day” this weekend, or at least observed others out and about as he crisscrossed Los Angeles shaking hands and greeting people.

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Two days before the California Democratic primary, the Vermont senator ventured into restaurants in West Hollywood, interrupted a fundraiser on the Santa Monica pier and listened to mariachi music in Lynwood. At every corner, as has been the case for months, excited fans swarmed the progressive superstar, jockeying for a photo.

The "Sanders Stroll" has become a bit of legend this campaign cycle. The senator often walks down streets in cities he visits, especially days before voting.

"He likes doing it," Sanders’ communications director Michael Briggs told ABC News, acknowledging the outings were often spur of the moment and improvised, but adding that Sanders wants to "meet people."

Briggs said the senator, 74, looked at a map and decided where he wanted to venture Sunday. "It’s good pictures, I guess," Briggs said when asked about the strategy behind the walks, which quickly become mob scenes of fans, selfies and makeshift rope lines.

In West Hollywood, Sanders and his entourage stormed into a restaurant called Hamburger Mary’s, a disco joint of sorts that does a “drag brunch” on Sundays. Standing underneath flashing, colorful party lights, the senator took a microphone and told the patrons he needed them to get out and vote.

One woman said, "Welcome to West Hollywood," as she stuck her hand out to meet Sanders at a spot across the street. There, at Beach Nation, brunch-goers dined at tables in the sand.

Reporters, staff and Secret Service then traveled with the senator to the Santa Monica pier. Sanders spent over an hour weaving through carnival games and beneath rollercoasters greeting more people

Along the way, a man in the crowd suggested Sanders stop by a fundraising cycling session on the pier. Before long, the senator was onstage at the event. Athletes peeled off their stationary bikes to form a last-minute audience for him.

"The purpose of our campaign is to change national priorities,” Sanders told the group after learning the fundraiser was to benefit urban students headed to summer camp. “We should not have 47 million people living in poverty. We should not have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country on earth. There is a primary on Tuesday. It is time we had a government that represented all of us, not just the one percent. So let's come out and vote.”

After crossing over a highway from the pier into Santa Monica, Briggs muttered to staff about Sanders’ wife, "When did we lose Jane?"

Sanders’ daughter, Carina Driscoll, had stepped in and tried to help the staff manage the chaos of people and make a path.

After more handshakes, smiles and “thank yous” - a little backtracking, a few near misses on strollers and curbs - Sanders capped his visit to the pier with a merry-go-round ride.

Jane Sanders had suddenly reappeared there with their two grandchildren. The senator stood next to grandson Dylan's horse and the two waved as the ride went round and round.

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