Bernie is defiant in California – his supporters are angry

We watched his rally in San Francisco

One of San Francisco’s trademark clouds was hanging over the Golden Gate Bridge, the backdrop for Bernie Sanders’ last big rally before the California Primary, but still a line of supporters snaked far towards the back of Crissy Field.

This was supposed to be Bernie’s biggest, most joyous rally yet, with tens of thousands expected – some said 65,000.

By the side of the queue, t-shirts showing Bernie’s head on John Travolta’s Saturday Night Fever body were on sale. Faint whiffs of weed crossed Crissy Field and a bearded supporter called Michael was hawking Bernie rolling papers for a dollar. Two Brazilian girls in circus outfits and on stilts posed for pictures.

Photography by Harry Shukman

And then at about 6pm, with Fishbone playing on stage and the crowd (decent, but not 65,000 or even a third of that) waiting for their man, phones flashed with some bad news from the Associated Press: “Clinton has enough delegates to be the Democratic nominee for president, according to The AP.”

When the report began to filter around the field, Bernie’s San Francisco fans reacted with a mix of blind anger, disbelief, and conspiracy.

“The system is rigged” said Kevin, a middle-aged supporter who believes the race would have been a lot closer if it hadn’t been for voter suppression in the New York primary.

“Bernie has to be the VP,” said Isabelle, another supporter. Most agreed that counting superdelegates before they have voted at the convention was illegitimate and expressed their anger at the latest ploy by the “corporate media” to get Hillary Clinton elected.

When one of the warm-up speakers made mention of “the people who want to claim this race is already over” a loud boo rang out in the crowd.

“We will fight on!… We’re going all the way to the convention!” proclaimed Nina Turner, a state senator from Ohio.

Bernie had time to adapt his speech to respond to the AP news, but no response was forthcoming.

His remarks rarely veered from his standard stump speech about America’s rigged economy and campaign finance reform and mass incarceration and global warming and fracking and legalizing marijuana, each point eliciting loud cheers from specific sections of the crowd.

 There were fewer mentions than usual of Hillary Clinton, but more of Donald Trump. At one point Bernie rattled off the latest polling figures, showing him beating Trump in a general election match-up that has become more fanciful by the day.

Still he told the crowd: “Our campaign has the energy and the activism that no other campaign has.”

When he attacked the “corporate media,” some of the crowd turned around to taunt the assembled press pack, angrily heckling CNN’s reporters in particular following a controversy about counting superdelegates.

Looking ahead to today’s primary, Bernie told the crowd: “In the most important state in the entire Democratic nomination process, we’re going to win here in California.”

The Tab will be covering the primary live tomorrow – check Electoral College for updates