The US presidential campaign has seen plenty of protesters trying to disrupt rallies, or even storm the stage.
But until Friday night in Oregon, it had not witnessed a tiny bird land on the podium and earn a standing ovation. The beneficiary of the bird’s intervention - both because it was his rally, and as a result of his splendid response when the bird hopped onto his lectern - was Bernie Sanders.
“I think, I think there may be some symbolism here,” Mr Sanders told the crowd in Portland, Oregon, which roared and cheered.
“I know it doesn’t look like it, but that bird is really a dove asking us for world peace. No more wars.”
A frequent critic of American military interventions abroad, Mr Sanders voted against the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and has often pointed to contrast between himself and rival Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail. “She was wrong, I was right,” he said.
Mr Sanders encounter with the bird - which triggered the Twitter hashtag #BerdieSanders - came as he campaigned ahead of votes in three states on Saturday where he is hoping to make up ground on Ms Clinton.
Democrats vote to select a presidential candidate in Washington, Alaska and Hawaii.
While few public polls are available, all three contests on Saturday are being conducted with caucuses, a format that has favored the Vermont senator.
Reuters said that as Mr Sanders struggles to remain competitive, western states have become must-win for him, after he lost by large margins in earlier contests in the US South.
No states are holding Republican nominating contests on Saturday, a race where Donald Trump holds a lead over the remaining rivals US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Governor John Kaisch.
Ms Clinton holds a sizable lead in the delegates race against Sanders. She has won 1,223 compared to Mr Sanders’ 920. Despite needing to win about two-thirds of the remaining delegates, the former Burlington mayor has vowed to stay in the race until the July convention in Philadelphia.
The latest national polls suggest the two candidates are tied in terms of support. Ms Clinton has 47 per cent of the Democratic vote, with Mr Sanders on 46 per cent.
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