-- Paul Sasso kicked off fall with a Bernie Sanders-inspired road trip.
"It’s America, everyone loves road trips,” he said in an interview with ABC News.
A San Diego architect, Sasso said his all-electric Tesla was a hit at the house party he threw for the Vermont senator earlier this summer.
“It’s green and alternative, the perfect match for Bernie,” he said. At the time, the car only had a few "Bernie 2016" bumper stickers, but that’s when he and his wife got the idea to make what they call “The Bern Machine.”
Looking for a creative way to do more for the Sanders campaign, they designed the wrap for the car and set up a fundraising campaign on Twitter and Facebook. The plan: Sasso promises to donate $1 for every picture of The Bern Machine tagged to the fundraising campaign with #BernMachineChallenge (up to $2,700).
In many ways, Sasso exemplifies the local artistic expression and grassroots “everyone-do-what-you-can” attitude that has propelled the Sanders campaign forward in the last few months. Recent polling has Sanders either neck-and-neck or ahead of Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire and Iowa, though nationwide, Sanders is still trailing her by 18 percentage points, according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post Poll.
Sasso said he started following Bernie Sanders closely after the 2008 financial crisis, and while he hopes to raise money for the senator, the real goal is getting the word out.
“It’s about social media and getting people engaged. We need people to know who Bernie is,” he said.
So far, the trip has taken Sasso to many pit stops, including Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Denver, Wyoming, Wisconsin, New York and finally to Virginia last night, where he finally met Sanders face-to-face for the first time.
He remembers one day along the way when a group of fans were waiting to meet him at a supercharger electric charging station in Indiana. “I felt like a rock star. I pulled up and they all started cheering and clapping," Sasso said.
“Students love it,” he added. “They drape themselves on the car and take pictures.”
After doing an event in Nyack, New York, he wanted a photo of his car from above, so he rang an apartment building doorbell and asked the tenant for a favor. Turns out the gentlemen was a Hillary Clinton supporter, Sasso said, but he was “open to Bernie,” and let Sasso take his photo.
Sasso's other favorites include this shot in front of the Wall Street Bull. Sasso asked fans on Facebook to bid on their favorite monument for a photo with the car. The winning team bid a $300 donation to the Sanders campaign for the Wall Street picture. The next highest bid was for a shot of the car in front of Trump Tower. Sasso said to keep a lookout for that one next week.