Former conservative teen YouTube star backs Sanders

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The 13-year-old star of viral conservative videos says he's changed his mind about who belongs in the White House in 2016.

CJ Pearson, who was once the chairman of Teens for Ted CruzTed CruzHouse approves stopgap funding, averting costly shutdown Overnight Tech: TV box plan faces crucial vote | Trump transition team to meet tech groups | Growing scrutiny of Yahoo security Could Snapchat be the digital bridge to younger voters? MORE, said Wednesday he is now endorsing Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersVulnerable NH Republican ties reelection bid to Trump Overnight Finance: Congress poised to avoid shutdown | Yellen defends Fed from Trump | Why Obama needs PhRMA on trade Trump mocks Clinton for stumbling while sick with pneumonia MORE (I-Vt.) for president.

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“This election will make a pivotal difference in the future of our nation,” he told CNN.

“If it takes changing your mind to make the right choice as to who should lead our country, I’m willing to do it,” Pearson added. "Screw the optics.

“People are struggling in America. We need the right man in the White House. And in my opinion, that man is Senator Bernie Sanders.”

Pearson built his massive social media following earlier this year by criticizing President Obama in multiple online videos.

He now has more than 5 million YouTube channel views, more than 37,000 Twitter followers and more than 100,000 likes on Facebook.

Pearson said Wednesday that he is leaving the GOP behind because he prefers Sanders’s stances on social justice issues.

“Systematic racism is real. Police brutality is real. Youth unemployment is real. Income inequality is real. Poverty in the richest country in the world is real," he said.

“There is only one candidate that has shown enough courage to accept these issues as a painful reality and has released plans to tackle every single one of them. That candidate, that courageous trailblazer, is Bernie Sanders. That’s how I made my decision.”

Pearson first announced he was cutting ties with the conservative movement late last month.

He admitted Wednesday that many former supporters are disappointed with his change of heart.

“They weren’t happy, but honestly, I didn’t expect them to be,” Pearson said of conservative followers. "I have to be my own person. I have to stand on my own two feet."

“My activism is centered around fighting to give young people a voice in their government and in the political arena,” he added. "With President Sanders, young people will have that voice."