by Carla Occaso
MONTPELIER — On his second day working as a student reporter for The Bridge, Nathan Grutchfield got to interview the potential next first lady of the United States — Vermonter Jane Sanders.
Sanders called in to The Bridge just before an event in Missouri, after a fast-paced jet-hopping jag from South Carolina to Massachusetts to Virginia to Missouri. After that, they headed to Oklahoma, Sanders told The Bridge. They had been flying coach, but the pace had picked up rolling into Super Tuesday, so now she and United States Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders are in a chartered plane along with United States Secret Service agents, reporters from national television news outlets and campaign assistants. She took a moment between plane trips to call The Bridge.
“I am a big fan of you and Bernie. I am 15 years old. What do you think it is about Bernie and yourself that (is so popular with young people?),” said Grutchfield, a sophomore at Montpelier High School.
Sanders said she thinks if Bernie is popular with youths it is because of Bernie’s sincerity and that the topics he chooses to talk about are important to young people. Those topics include climate change, college education, wages, jobs, the economy and even war and peace. “They know he means what he says … in terms of making America the country that we want it to be as opposed to the way it is. He is not doing politics as usual. He is not trying to tear down his opponents. He is trying to invigorate democracy.”
Sanders then asked Grutchfield why he supports Bernie. Grutchfield replied, “He is one of the most passionate candidates about the issues people really care about and that is what makes him so appealing. People can see he really cares,” Grutchfield said.
Other Bridge staffers took turns asking questions and she responded during the brief interview. Sanders said she does not have any particular plans, agendas, or projects to embark on if she becomes first lady the way Michelle Obama did with organic farming and fitness. She said she would continue to support Bernie in whatever way is necessary, as she is doing now.
Sanders recalled publisher Nat Frothingham from his days of involvement with Two Penny Theater. Frothingham asked why she called The Bridge when she was jet setting with ABC and CNN. “I said to Carla, ‘Why would Jane be reaching out to a paper as small as The Bridge.’ We don’t have a big circulation and we don’t have much clout,” Frothingham said.
“Barbara Vacarr (former Goddard College president) told me that Carla would like to talk to me … so I said, ‘Oh no, I didn’t get back to Carla,’” Sanders said. Occaso had tried to reach Jane Sanders through Barbara Vacarr just after Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy. “They are just as important as ABC News,” she said of The Bridge.
Frothingham went on to ask how she thinks the Sanders campaign will fare in the days ahead from an election standpoint. “Bernie is as committed as he has ever been,” Jane Sanders said. “The last three polls just had a thing saying he was leading. It is not over until it is over.”