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Bernie Sanders tells California audience that Democrats 'cannot be the party of the liberal elite'

 (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke to a sold-out crowd of 1,400 Tuesday night in Glendale, trying to help supporters grapple with the election of Donald Trump and chart a path forward.

Opening her conversation with Sanders at the Alex Theatre, comedian Sarah Silverman posed a question with a four-letter word she said has "been on everybody's mind since the election."

"What the [expletive]?" Silverman said to laughter and applause. "Is that the entire question?" Sanders responded, before warning that the Democratic Party "cannot be the party of the liberal elite."

Sanders told the audience that it would be a mistake to assume that the only reason Trump won was because his supporters are "racists, sexists and homophobes."

"What he touched on in many, many parts of this country is a pain and a level of despair that you never, ever see on television," Sanders said. "A lot of people are suffering, a lot of people are hurting and they need a party which brings them into the process."

Sanders continued to de-emphasize identity politics, a move he's made in several media outlets in recent days, saying "it isn't enough" to support a candidate because she's a Latina or a woman. Democrats, Sanders said, need to stand against racism and discrimination, but also emphasize progressive values such as fighting Wall Street and drug companies.

He repeated his belief that the "overwhelming share" of Americans support his progressive ideals, including a desire for clean air and water, free college tuition and greater pay equality for women, all topics that drew sustained applause from the audience.

"As we try to figure out how best to deal with a President Trump, and I'm as reluctant as you to say that phrase ... please do not believe that members of Congress can do this alone. We need a mass movement of millions of people who are engaged," Sanders said.

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