Pope says brief encounter with Sanders polite, not political

NEW YORK – With 247 pledged delegates and 44 super delegates at stake, New York City Democrats are gearing up for a crucial primary on Tuesday.

Campaign volunteers for both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were out to sway the vote on the streets of New York City over the weekend.

“We help voters from all around the nation learn how to register and vote and I’m feeling the Bern,” said Paul Fredericks, VoteForBernie.org staff member from Seymour, Conn. “He has gotten millions of people to learn what are politics.”

Fil-Am Jason Benjamin Tengco, AAPI Outreach Director for the Clinton Campaign said every vote counts.

“The AAPI, Filipino American community, they stayed home,” said Benjamin. “They essentially don’t matter as much to the people that vote. I just want to reiterate that if we don’t vote, we become that statistic.”

Supporters believe that Sen. Sanders’ speech at the Vatican and his chance meeting with the Pope could boost his chance of winning on Tuesday’s New York primary via the Catholic Vote.

“I think it would help him with the Catholic vote,” said Michael McHugh, a Sanders supporter from Brooklyn. “I think it’s very important that he did that, and also that he is very much aligned with the Pope’s agenda politically, socially and morally.”

Sanders met the pope at around 4 a.m. on Saturday at the Vatican guest house, where Francis lives and where Sanders spent the night after a 15-minute speech at the Vatican conference sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences last Friday.

“I just wanted to let him know how appreciative I was of the extraordinary role he’s playing throughout the world in raising consciousness about massive levels of income and wealth inequality,” said Sanders in a news interview.

Sanders declined to provide details on what the Pope said, saying he’d rather keep it to himself.

The Pope told reporters on the Papal plane that the meeting was polite and not politics.

“This morning when I came out there was Sen. Sanders,” said the Pope. “He knew I was going to come out at that hour and he was kind enough to greet me.”

The Pope also said the brief meeting was good manners and nothing more.

“If anyone thinks that greeting someone is getting involved in politics, I recommend that he look for a psychiatrist,” he said laughing.

Broadway actor and Fil-Am for Hillary member Jose Llana thought it hilarious.

“’Met’ – you know what that means, like he was waiting at the lobby of this hotel, knowing he was leaving, so the Pope could shake his hand,” said Llana. “I don’t know what is that intended to do for his campaign.”

Around 40 percent of New Yorkers, including Filipino-Americans identify as Catholics.

The Pope effect on Sanders’ delegate haul, positive or negative, remains to be seen on Tuesday night’s New York primary results.

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