Sanders: Dems must 'do the opposite' of Trump

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - Reasserting himself as a leading voice in Democratic politics, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday called on the political party to work harder to convince people of all races, regions and income levels that liberal policies will help them.

"Our job is to do exactly the opposite of what Trump is trying to do. He is trying to divide us," Sanders told scores of high-profile supporters at an intimate gathering in Vermont's largest city. He continued: "Our job is to bring people together around a strong progressive agenda."

The 77-year-old senator, who battled Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, did not address his political future. Yet questions about a second White House bid hung over the opening day of the three-day affair, hosted by the year-old policy arm of Sanders' broader network led by Sanders' wife, Jane O'Meara Sanders and stepson David Driscoll.

Thursday's crowd of less than 100 marked a who's-who of Sanders' highest-profile supporters. Hollywood actors Danny Glover, Susan Sarandon, John Cusack and Cynthia Nixon joined intellectuals Cornel West and Simon Sinek. Elected officials such as Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio were set to join the group later.

In his welcome address, Sanders highlighted a shift among the Democratic establishment which has increasingly embraced his calls for liberal policies like universal health care and a $15 minimum wage. He said that's just the beginning.

Progressives should start talking more about "building millions of affordable housing units" and providing "affordable, quality child care," he said.

He acknowledged that Democratic leaders must work harder to break through an increasingly divided electorate.

"We have got to make sure that the Democratic Party isn't just the party of the East Coast and the West Coast, it's a party of every state in this country," Sanders said.

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