HAYWORTH, Calif. >> California is a sprawling state. And Hollywood actress Shailene Woodley, a die-hard Bernie Sanders supporter, had access to a motor home.
So this week, Woodley decided to take the RV on the road to campaign for Sanders ahead of California’s June 7 Democratic primary. She invited a few celebrity friends and fellow Sanders fanatics, including actors Rosario Dawson and Kendrick Sampson.
They didn’t hire a driver, instead taking turns at the wheel for a 12-city tour of the state.
They started Thursday, with stops at the U.S.-Mexico border and San Diego. On Friday, more than 500 miles later, the big tan motor home rolled into a quiet residential neighborhood in the Bay Area suburb of Hayward, where a couple dozen Sanders supporters were preparing to spend the afternoon knocking on doors.
The celebrities, looking a bit rumpled and sticky after many hours on the road, disembarked and thanked the volunteers in a rousing pep talk.
“It’s easy to feel isolated and to feel lonely in this movement,” said Woodley, known for her starring roles in “The Fault in Our Stars” and the “Divergent” film series. “But there’s millions of us around the country who are doing this.”
“This is about our future, our collective future, and we can’t be told we have to vote out of fear,” said Dawson, who has starred in films including “Rent” and “Men In Black II.”
The actors are part of an army of celebrity Sanders backers who have campaigned around the country for the Vermont senator. Some, like Dawson, have been known to criticize his opponent, Hillary Clinton, in ways that Sanders does not. For example, Dawson has repeatedly raised questions about Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of State.
Clinton has her own collection of celebrity endorsements. Musician Katy Perry and actress Lena Dunham have both hit the campaign trail for her.
But the DIY nature of this weekend’s road trip is a bit different than typical endorsement tours, and it seems in tune with a campaign that has prided itself on small individual donations and other grass-roots support.
It was organized independently of the campaign. And its participants are spending each night together in a 30-foot RV until the trip ends Monday in Los Angeles.
“It is close quarters,” said Sampson, an actor on the television show “How to Get Away With Murder.” “It’s definitely not my preference of travel. I’d rather get there and go to a hotel. But we’re having so much fun.”
He admitted to being a bad influence in the snack department.
“They have vegetables and stuff like that,” he said of his fellow travelers. “I’ve got jerky and like gummy snacks.”
Along with dropping by a few official campaign events, the group is making other stops, including meeting with Native American youth and children who have fled violence in Central America.
“The tour is really about listening, learning and creating space for all of us to individually and collectively heal while educating and getting people out to vote for Bernie Sanders,” said Mike de la Rocha, a musician and social justice advocate in Los Angeles who also was on the bus.
On Friday, he asked the Sanders volunteers to stand in a circle and hold hands to help open their hearts before hitting the streets.
Sanders has been on a California road trip of his own in recent weeks, crisscrossing the state in a last-ditch effort to save his campaign.
Polls show Sanders in a statistical tie with Clinton in California. But a win in the state would be only the beginning of a battle for the nomination at the Democratic National Convention this summer. Sanders trails Clinton in pledged delegates as well as superdelegates who have promised to back Clinton. He would need to convince large numbers of them that he is better suited than Clinton to take on presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump in the November presidential election.
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