How passionate are Bernie voters? Ask the Canadian taking US citizenship for him

Kim De Lutis, originally from Montreal's South Shore, is keen to vote for Bernie Sanders — so much so that after having lived in the U.S. for 21 years, she's just applied for dual citizenship.

Kim De Lutis expects to have her citizenship by November so she can vote in presidential election

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a campaign stop at the Claremont Opera House earlier this month in Claremont, N.H. (John Minchillo/The Associated Press)

Some people will knock on doors, stuff envelopes, or make phone calls for a political candidate.

Kim De Lutis is so enthusiastic about hers she's changing her citizenship.

The Canadian-born woman is keen to vote for Bernie Sanders — so much so that after having lived in the U.S. for 21 years, she's just applied for dual citizenship.

A passionate movement has pushed the septuagenarian socialist into a position unimaginable just a few months ago: Sanders is now heavily favoured to beat Hillary Clinton in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary.

"He was definitely the first candidate that spurred me to want to vote (in the U.S.),'' said De Lutis, a native of Montreal's South Shore.

"It definitely spurred me to get my citizenship.... He's inspired a political revolution."

Anyone relying on television will not see the reality, the buzz, the excitement his campaign is generating.... Hillary is no longer the front-runner, Bernie is no longer unelectable.- Kim De Lutis, a native of Montreal's South Shore

De Lutis had originally moved to New Hampshire for her husband's work in 1995. They're now paying two kids' college tuition, which she likens to having a second mortgage.

She's been stirred to action by the senator's central message: that the world's wealthiest country should not lack social programs other countries deem basic.

Free college tuition is one of his bolder ideas. Another less revolutionary idea: parental leave, something the U.S.
doesn't have.

De Lutis expects to have her citizenship by November — so she can vote for Sanders in the general election and send him to the White House, overcoming the obstacles of special-interest money, a pro-Clinton party establishment and hostile media.

Long road ahead

It won't be easy: The campaign heads south next, and polls have Sanders dozens of percentage points behind in the next-voting state of South Carolina.

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, and Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton shake hands after a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by MSNBC at the University of New Hampshire Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Durham, N.H. (AP Photo/David Goldman) (David Goldman/Associated Press)
He also faces a wall of resistance from party brass. That much was evident Monday. Clinton was introduced at a rally by the governor of New Hampshire; the state's Democratic senator; and the mayor of nearby Boston.

Clinton noted that virtually every major party player from Sanders' own state, Vermont, supports her.

A certain former president was there too.

Bill Clinton argued that a Sanders White House would face another impediment: reality.

Stumping for his wife, an older, hoarser-voiced 42nd president flashed the same ability to weave statistics and storytelling as he did in his first national campaign, when he became a contender with his strong showing in New Hampshire.

Clinton acknowledged the angry national mood: 84 per cent of Americans hadn't had a raise in years, he said. He quoted Irish poet William Butler Yeats: "Too long a sacrifice can make a stone of the heart.''

The question, he said, isn't whether the country needs changes. The question is whether a politician can achieve changes that leave the country better off: ``The rest is just background noise.''

Canadian-style medicare

Sanders proposes Canadian-style medicare. To Clinton, that's like peddling science fiction — a belief in some alternate universe where it could get the necessary 60 per cent of Senate votes.

Supporters of Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders cheer during his rally at Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth, N.H. on Feb. 7. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
Same thing with free tuition. Hillary Clinton has a multi-layered plan to fight skyrocketing costs that involve a tax rebate and refinanced loans at lower rates. Sanders' policy is easier to explain: zero tuition.

One Clinton supporter in the crowd said she likes some of Sanders' message. She just doesn't buy its viability.

"Sounds nice,'' said Robbie Grady, a retired military spouse. "But realistically, I want to get things done... (The message) may be inspirational, motivational. But I'd rather have some solid goals.''

That clash of centrist-versus-socialist had been playing out politely through the campaign. The increased stakes, however, have brought out the nasty in some partisans.

One Sanders supporter heckled his rival over her paid speeches to Wall Street: "Why did you take their money?" 

In an interview, Sanders urged some supporters to cut out the sexist insults against women supporting Clinton: "We don't want that crap."

'No longer unelectable'

The Clinton campaign has levelled attacks of varying veracity. But the former first couple sounds exasperated by what they consider drive-by smears and insinuations that those opposing Sanders are corrupted by special-interest money.

Bernie Sanders made an appearance on Saturday Night Live on Feb. 6 with his impersonator, comedian Larry David. (Saturday Night Live/Twitter)
De Lutis went out of her way to keep the tone civil. She declined to say anything about Clinton in an interview. She crafted an email later, laying out some differences.

"There's been a media blackout on Bernie Sanders both in the United States and abroad," she wrote.

"Anyone relying on television will not see the reality, the buzz, the excitement his campaign is generating.... Hillary is no longer the front-runner, Bernie is no longer unelectable.''


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