PHILADELPHIA, Penn. -- Protesters in Philadelphia have found a glimmer of hope: Dr. Jill Stein.
Though Stein has been running as the Green Party’s presumptive presidential candidate for 13 months now, here in the City of Brotherly Love she’s had something of a bump in public opinion.
At a protest with a few hundred people today near City Hall, there were several rounds of chants for “Jill Not Hill” and signs lining Stein up with Sanders as the progressive alternative to Clinton.
“Bernie was the opening act and now we’re going to enter the main event,” said Ben Nettwiss, who was selling Stein buttons at the protest. “In many ways she’s better than Bernie, but she doesn’t have the gravitas. She doesn’t have the credentials, but we’ll get them for her between now and November.”
Moments earlier, Stein had been sitting in a coffee shop about a mile down the road, not drinking coffee. The 66-year-old former doctor prefers a snack of strawberries and blueberries to caffeine because they “give me the same kind of lift without the crash,” she told ABC.
Her campaign has been on the upswing as well. While she hasn’t broken into the double digits, she’s remaining optimistic about the difference that her campaign can make on the American political landscape.
“There’s clearly a lot of interest in our campaign and we’re up against a really steep hill,” she said.
“This is how you build political movements —- you have to gain trust and you have to work together and that's what you can do in the course of a political campaign. You can test the waters and those waters right now are feeling very warm and welcoming,” she told ABC.
This is Stein’s second time through the presidential campaign process. She feels that this time, Sanders has helped her campaign, even though she says the Green Party has been asking to meet with him for years with no response.
“It’s quite different [this time]. In 2012, we were really ahead of the curve. This year, the curve caught up to us and we have Bernie Sanders who lifted up our agenda and it found incredible resonance in the polls among people who are activists,” she said.
The concern that a third party candidate would be more harmful for the major party candidate hasn’t stopped Stein and her supporters from being vocal in their joint criticism of Clinton.
When asked what she would think of a Trump presidency, Stein said she “wouldn't wish that on anyone, nor would I wish Hillary on anyone. Hillary is a proven danger and Trump is a terrifying danger.”
There’s no love lost between Stein and Clinton. Stein is quick to point out that, while Clinton will be making history by being officially nominated as the first female presidential candidate for one of the main parties, Stein is the woman who has earned the most presidential votes in the history of U.S. politics to date.
“You can be sure that Hillary Clinton does not look favorably on another woman candidate who is actually progressive in the race,” Stein said. “We are a very inconvenient truth.”
For some Sanders supporters, that truth looks like it could be their salvation.
Jeremy Dolan, 24, traveled to Philadelphia from St. Petersburg, Florida and was spotted today holding a pro-Sanders poster near the protest but said that he’s already open to switching to Stein.
“I’ve already donated $1,000 to her campaign,” he told ABC.
“If Bernie doesn’t make it past the convention with the nomination, we’ll support Jill Stein,” he said.