Bernie Sanders appeared before hundreds of supporters who filled the Avalon nightclub in Hollywood on Wednesday, with entertainer Seth MacFarlane endorsing the insurgent candidate and introducing him onstage.
Sanders focused the early part of his speech on income inequality and what he characterized as a “rigged” economy against the middle and working class.
He also decried the way that politics has been covered, in the media and elsewhere, “like it were a baseball game or a soap opera.”
He said that if he “slipped on a banana peel leaving here, it would be on the front page.”
“If I were standing here tonight making some viscious attack against Hillary Clinton or anybody else, it would be a front-page story,” Sanders said. “But if you talk about why the middle class is disappearing as almost all the income and wealth go to the top 1%, not a big story. So what the political revolution is is forcing a debate, not about trivia, but about real issues.”
MacFarlane said that he was particularly impressed by a response that Sanders gave at Tuesday night’s debate. Asked what was the country’s greatest national security threat, Sanders answered climate change.
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“Senator Sanders was the only candidate on that stage who gave the correct answer: climate change. Of all our biggest challenges, social inequality, healthcare, this one is the one that must go immediately to the front of the line. This is the only one with a non-negotiable timetable.”
“While it would be way funnier if Trump won, it would be far better for the health of the country if Bernie Sanders was the next president,” MacFarlane said.
MacFarlane also noted that while Republicans have been great about demonizing the term “socialist,” it was Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal that reined in some of the excesses of capitalism. Interspersing his remarks with quips, including one about Bill Cosby, he also said that Sanders “has removed my trepidation from saying aloud that capitalism and Democratic socialism, that not-so-scary word, can and should coexist.”
The event, with about 1,100 people attending, was a low dollar fundraiser where attendees paid $25 per person.
Among those who are backing Sanders is Yosi Sergant, the communications specialist who in 2008 organized artists for Barack Obama, including Shepard Fairey to create the famous “Hope” poster.
“We’ve had an amazing run with Obama. Obama has pushed forward practical progressive policies in a tremendous way, but we’ve also faced tremendous opposition,” he said. He said that Sanders is a candidate who is “bold enough to push through the deadlock that is in D.C.” and move the country forward.
Earlier in the day, Sanders taped an appearance on “The Ellen Show,” set to air on Thursday, in which he gamely answered her lightning round of questions.
“Have you ever been in handcuffs?” host Ellen DeGeneres asked.
The audience laughed.
“I don’t know exactly what you mean by that. I was,” he said. “I take it to mean, ‘Was I ever arrested by the police?’ When I was young, I was involved in a civil rights demonstration.”
Sanders also did a dance move, as is expected of her guests.
Later on Wednesday evening, Sanders attended another fundraiser at the Beverly Hills home of Syd and Linda Leibovitch, with tickets starting at $250. About 300 people attended, raising about $150,000, according to a pool report. This was only Sanders’ ninth traditional fundraiser, and only the third held in a private home, with the bulk being raised online.
With valet parking, wine and cocktails served and the rock band America playing in the backyard, Sanders joked about the “proletariat” home.
“The truth is there are many people in this country who have money but also believe in social justice,” he said.
Sanders is scheduled to appear on “Real Time with Bill Maher” on Friday.
Seth MacFarlane speaks at the Bernie Sanders fundraiser in Hollywood. Photo by Rob Latour/REX Shutterstock.