Sanders takes jab at Biden for not attending Calif. convention

Candidates make their case before state Democrats

By Devan Cole and Jasmine Wright, CNN

Bernie Sanders on Sunday took a tacit jab at former Vice President Joe Biden, calling out his Democratic presidential opponent without mentioning him by name for not appearing at the California Democratic Convention -- where more than a dozen other 2020 candidates made their cases to scores of Democratic voters.

"As you all know, there is a debate among presidential candidates who have spoken to you here in this room and those who have chosen for whatever reason not to be in this room about the best way forward," the Vermont senator said as attendees booed. "So let me be as clear as I can be: in my view, we will not beat Donald Trump unless we bring excitement and energy into the campaign."

He continued, "And unless we give millions of working people and young people a reason to vote and a reason to believe that politics is relevant to their lives."

Although Sanders did not directly name Biden, the former vice president's absence was explicitly noted by the group Action for a Progressive Future, whose members handed out fliers at the event that read: "Where is Joe Biden?"

Alexandra "Alex" Gallardo Rooker, acting chairwoman of the California Democratic Party, said at one point during the event, however, that she and Biden spoke last week and the former vice president said he had already committed to the Human Rights Campaign Dinner on Saturday night in Columbus, Ohio, and therefore could not make it to the convention.

Biden, Gallardo-Rooker said, assured her that he would visit California "many times."

The three-day event, hosted in San Francisco, was attended by California Sen. Kamala Harris; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren; former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke; New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker; Washington Gov. Jay Inslee; former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper; Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar; California Rep. Eric Swalwell; Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana; Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard; New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand; former Maryland Rep. John Delaney and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro.

At the event, Sanders also blasted President Donald Trump, describing him at one point as "a racist, a sexist, a homophobe and a religious bigot."

"And let me thank everybody in this room for your determination to defeat the worst president in the history of this country. A president who is a racist, a sexist, a homophobe and a religious bigot," Sander said. "Together we are going to defeat a president who has the most corrupt administration in history and a president who knows nothing about real American values."

CNN's Kyung Lah and Chase Masters contributed to this report.

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