CHARLESTON, S.C. (WIS) - Sen. Bernie Sanders is facing a lot of criticism from his opponents, but he isn’t afraid to give it right back.
On Wednesday, Sanders addressed more than 1,000 potential voters to galvanize support ahead of Saturday's Democratic primary. There, he addressed former Vice President Joe Biden directly.
"Joe is a friend of mine and a decent guy,” Sanders said, “but that is not the voting record or the history that is going to excite people, bring them into the political process, and defeat Trump."
His message was consistent with what he has said during other visits to the Palmetto State and voters said it's similar to what they heard from him when he campaigned against Hillary Clinton.
Longtime Sanders supporter Brandon Green said that's why he likes the Vermont Senator.
"He's been saying the same thing for years, even when it wasn't popular," Green said. "People feel like they can trust Bernie."
Green admitted Sanders didn't encourage a large turnout in 2016 when he lost to Hillary Clinton by more than 47 points in South Carolina. However, he thinks this time is different for Sanders in particular because of younger African-American voters.
"I think 2016 for a lot of people felt like a coronation, to be honest. We were kind of told who we were supposed to vote for," Green said. "The candidate who was waiting. It was her turn. And respect to Hillary Clinton, but a lot of people didn't feel like she did the work and came to where they work and spoke their language. And I know for a fact a lot of Young Black Voters didn't feel they could trust her," he added.
Sanders is keeping a close eye on the polls and sees the movement.
"We've come a long, long way in closing that gap...and I think, if my memory is correct, I think we started 20 or 30 or more points behind and now we are in single digits," Sanders told the crowd.
According to a recent NBC News/Marist Poll, he is right. He was just four points behind former Vice President Joe Biden. However, other polls tell a different story. A Clemson Palmetto Poll has Biden up with 35% support followed by billionaire and activist Tom Steyer at 17% and Sanders in third at 13%.
The polling reflects what Green is seeing in his own community and what he is hearing from his friends.
"I think it will be a three-way type of situation between Steyer, Bernie, and Biden, because they are the ones who have been fighting the hardest for the Black vote," he said. "People have been bombarded with mail especially from Steyer. I know we have... I see no one running away with it."
But Green thinks people are forgetting that people like him are excited to vote this weekend. Green and other voters at the Sanders event said that they are concerned about flooding in South Carolina and concerned about another mass shooting happening in their state. They believe the solution is to pick someone who will defeat President Trump in November.
"People often underestimate how pragmatic black voters are. We care about winning and we really think hard about what candidate can energize people to come out and vote because we have those conversations every week," he explained.
The crowd at Sanders' Wednesday rally was predominately white, Green concedes but said that's just because many African-American voters can't afford to leave work in the middle of the day for a rally.
Green thinks voters won't miss Saturday's primary and Sanders is hanging a potential win in South Carolina on that.
"I believe, if we can put out the largest voter turnout in the history of this state, we can win in South Carolina," Sanders said.
Even if Sanders just dents the lead Biden once commanded in South Carolina, he may push out one of his biggest contenders.
Rep. Jim Clyburn said in an interview with CNN after endorsing Biden that the former vice president can't just win South Carolina by a narrow margin if he wants to get a boost in the next primary contests. And if Biden loses in South Carolina, Clyburn said, "to me, emotionally, I wouldn't see a way forward."
Making a Sanders surge at Biden’s expense is more than just a win for him, but a loss for the once front runner in First in the South Primary.