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Ed. One of the biggest surprises of the campaign through Summer 2015 is the large crowds that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has drawn...

August 21, 2015
Contact: Michael Briggs

Big Crowds Turn out for Sanders in South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Friday addressed more than 5,500 supporters who packed convention halls here in the state capital and in Greenville, South Carolina, on the first day of a weekend swing through the key early primary state.

In Greenville, a big Bernie banner featuring the distinctive palmetto tree symbol hung high overhead as Sanders addressed the crowd of 2,800. Another 2,700 packed a low-ceilinged hall and an overflow area here at the Medallion Center.

In his speeches and in private meetings with African-American ministers and community leaders, Sanders spoke about “institutional racism” that persists in America and in this state where last June 17 nine people were killed at a prayer service at Charleston’s historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

“There is no one who will fight harder not only to end institutional racism, but to make fundamental changes in our broken criminal justice system,” Sanders said.

He also pledged to fight the “political cowards” who exploited a Supreme Court ruling that gutted the Voting Rights Act by passing laws designed to suppress turnout on Election Day.

In Sanders’ wide-ranging speeches, he also talked about high unemployment and the need to create jobs. He proposed a $1 trillion roads and bridges rebuilding program. He said the Trans Pacific Partnership, the latest corporate-backed, job-killing trade deal, must be defeated. He called for bold solutions to address the looming planetary crisis of climate change. And one of the biggest applause lines in both speeches was when he talked about his legislation to make public colleges and universities tuition free.

Sanders speech at the Medallion Center was broadcast live on C-SPAN. Afterward the senator answered questions from the public service network’s Steve Scully.

Sanders has assembled a talented and experienced campaign staff in South Carolina led by Chris Covert, the state director, and Lawrence Moore, the political director. Covert, who lives with his family in James Island, is veteran of campaigns in the Palmetto State. Moor, who is from Columbia, played key roles in campaigns for the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. and the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.).

To watch Sanders on C-SPAN, click here.

To read more about Sanders’ team in South Carolina, click here.


Photo: Sanders 2016
August 10, 2015
Contact: Michael Briggs

Sanders West Coast Swing Taps Grassroots Surge

LOS ANGELES – Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders wrapped up a three-day West Coast swing on Monday with a stem-winder speech to an arena packed with sign-waving supporters cheering his call for a political revolution.

He was introduced by comedienne and actress Sarah Silverman. “I give you, if we’re all very smart and a little bit lucky, the next president of the United States,” she said. The crowd roared its approval.

And there were more thunderous cheers and applause when Sanders walked up a catwalk onto the stage and proclaimed, in a hoarse shout, that “this country belongs to all of us and not a handful of billionaires. We need a grassroots political revolution.”

Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena officials said there were 27,500 people inside the arena and watching on giant TV screens in an overflow area outside. The tremendous turnout – five times bigger than the largest crowd any other presidential candidate has attracted – capped a three-day weekend of big rallies that drew 28,000 people to see Sanders in Portland, Oregon, on Sunday after 15,000 saw him in Settle on Saturday.

The rallies provided new hard evidence of a Sanders surge. “This is a campaign that is on the move,” Sanders said, “and, together, this is a campaign that will end in victory.”

He spoke for about an hour about domestic and foreign policy issues.

On foreign policy, Sanders reminded the audience that he voted against the war in Iraq. They cheered. Then he said he spoke with President Barack Obama last week and assured him that he will support an agreement with Iran to stop it from developing a nuclear weapon. There was more applause. But the audience really erupted when he added, “War has got to be the last recourse, not the first.”

He was cheered when he called for public funding of campaigns. “This campaign is not a billionaire-funded campaign. It is a people campaign,” he said. “We don’t take money from billionaires. We don’t take money from corporations. Yet we have received more individual contributions than any other campaign. We don’t have the money but when people stand together there is nothing we can’t accomplish.”

Angelenos approved when Sanders congratulated the city for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. He has a Senate bill to put the federal hourly minimum wage at $15 by 2020. They applauded his call for a massive road and bridge project to rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure and create 13 million good-paying jobs.

Perhaps the biggest crowd reaction of the night came when he called for tuition-free public colleges and universities, something the University of California system once offered to qualified students.

“The reason why we are doing well in this campaign is because we are telling the truth. We are talking to the reality of American life today. We are talking about a reality in which almost all of the wealth and income in this country is going to the top 1 percent. We are talking about the United States having more wealth and income inequality than any other major country on earth and we are going to change that.”


August 9, 2015
Contact: Michael Briggs 

‘Bringing People Together,’ is Campaign’s Core, Sanders Tells Another Record Rally

PORTLAND, Ore. – Shattering a day-old record, 28,000 backers of Bernie Sanders on Sunday filled all the seats and crowded into overflow areas outside the Moda Center sports arena where the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers play.

“Whoa. This is an unbelievable turnout,” Sanders said after he walked onto the stage. Consistently drawing bigger turnouts than any other presidential contender, Sanders told the packed Portland arena, “You’ve done it better than anyone else.” The arena seats were filled and thousands more listened to the speech on loudspeakers outside, according to Michael Lewellen, a Rose Quarter vice president. The total turnout far surpassed the 15,000 in Seattle just 24 hours earlier.

The big and boisterous crowds, Sanders said, are sending a message that it’s time to reverse the four-decade decline of the American middle class and launch a grassroots “political revolution” to take on the billionaire class. “Bringing people together,” Sanders added, is at the core of his campaign.

Sanders also called for criminal justice reform. “There is no candidate who will fight harder to end institutional racism in this country and to reform our broken criminal justice system,” he said.

In the nearly hour-long speech, Sanders touched on economic and jobs proposals, criminal justice reform and civil rights issues.

On domestic issues, the U.S. senator from Vermont advocated raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020, closing tax loopholes exploited by the wealthy and profitable corporations, undertaking a massive $1 trillion program to fix roads and bridges and create or sustain 13 million jobs, a Medicare-for-all health care system to provide better care for more people at less cost, an expansion of Social Security and tuition-free college.

In an interview broadcast earlier Sunday on the CBS program “Face the Nation,” Sanders had made the case for the agreement with Iran reached by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. "Look, I'm not going to tell you that this is a perfect agreement," he said. "But the United States has to negotiate with other countries. We have to negotiate with Iran. And the alternative of not reaching an agreement, you know what it is? It's war. Do we really want another war, a war with Iran?”


August 8, 2015
Contact: Michael Briggs

Sanders Draws Record Crowd in Seattle

SEATTLE – More than 15,000 boisterous supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders packed inside and outside the University of Washington’s Hec Edmunson Pavilion on Saturday.

“The momentum is unbelievable,” Sanders said. “We’ve got 12,000 people here,” he said to roar of the crowd inside the pavilion. “And a few minutes ago, I just talked to 3,000 people outside,” he added, citing a Seattle police estimate.

The big turnouts are sending a powerful message, Sanders said, in arenas and convention centers here and in other cities from Phoenix to Houston to New Orleans to Madison, Wisconsin. (The 11,300 turnout in Phoenix on July 18 was the biggest crowd for any presidential candidate before the rally here in Seattle.)

“All across this country people are sick and tired of establishment politics, establishment economics and they want real change,” he said. “The people of America understand that corporate greed is destroying our country,” he added, “and that much of the mainstream media is prepared to talk about everything except for what is the most important.”

The record crowd for any presidential candidate so far this campaign heard Sanders speak about wealth and income inequality, the need for a massive federal jobs program, tuition-free public college, the need to strengthen and expand Social Security, reform the criminal justice system and confront racism.

“As somebody who has one of the strongest lifetime civil rights record in Congress, no president will fight harder to end the stain of racism in this country and reform the criminal justice system,” he said.

He also has proposed making public higher education tuition free. “It makes more sense to me to invest in jobs and education for our kids than in jails and incarceration,” Sanders said.

The Seattle audience also cheered his call for raising the current $7.25 an hour federal minimum wage. He called it a “starvation wage” and congratulated the Seattle City Council for recently passing an ordinance that will boost the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Sanders recently introduced legislation in the Senate to make $15 the minimum wage nationwide by 2020. “You did it for Seattle. We are now going to do it for the entire country,” he said.

He also said he will push for passage of a massive federal jobs program to put our people back to work.” He has introduced legislation to invest $1 trillion in rebuilding America’s crumbling roads and bridges.

July 19, 2015
Contact: Michael Briggs

Sanders Draws Thousands to Texas Rallies

Addresses Poverty, Youth Unemployment, Race in America

HOUSTON – There was another big Texas turnout Sunday evening for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders who brought his Democratic Party presidential campaign to a packed arena at the University of Houston hours after an even bigger mid-day rally in Dallas.

A crowd of some 5,200 pumped-up, mostly-young people filled the university arena here. Earlier in the day, another 8,000 Texans packed a Dallas hotel.

At both appearances, Sanders discussed wealth and income inequality, the “national tragedy” of youth unemployment, making college tuition-free, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and the need for a massive federal highway construction program to create millions of decent-paying jobs.

He also questioned why the United States puts more people behind bars than any other nation. “When we have so many of our young people in jail, to me it makes sense that we invest more in jobs and education rather than jails and incarceration,” Sanders said.

And here in Houston, Sanders brought up the death last Monday of Sandra Bland, a young African-American woman found dead in her Waller County jail cell 60 miles northwest of Houston. The 28-year-old from suburban Chicago had been arrested July 10 after a routine traffic stop. The medical examiner said her death was a suicide. Bland's family disputes the finding.

“I wish that in the year 2015, I could tell you that we have eliminated racism in our country but you all know that is not true,” Sanders said.

In citing the death of Bland, Sanders also mentioned other recent deaths of African-Americans in police custody. Eric Garner died one year ago after a New York City a police officer put him in a chokehold. Freddie Gray was a 25-year-old African-American who died last April while being transported in a Baltimore Police van. Tamir Rice was 12 years old when he was shot and killed in 2014 by two police officers in Cleveland, Ohio.

“These are the cases that you have heard about recently but anyone who thinks this has not been going on decade after decade would be very wrong,” Sanders said. “It is unacceptable that police officers beat up people or kill people. If they do that, they have got to be held accountable.”

As a former mayor, Sanders said he worked with police. “The vast majority of police officers work hard. It is a very, very difficult job. But if a police officer breaks the law, that officer must be held accountable.”


July 18, 2015
Contact: Michael Briggs

In Arizona, Sanders Draws Biggest Crowd Yet

More Red State Rallies are Set

PHOENIX – The biggest crowd so far for any presidential campaign rally turned out on Saturday night to see Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in Arizona.

A crowd of more than 11,000 people, according to Phoenix Convention Center officials, jammed a sprawling exhibit hall to see the senator from Vermont.

“This is the largest turnout…” Sanders said before the roar of the audience drowned out the rest of the sentence with cheers.

“Somebody told me Arizona is a conservative state. Somebody told me the people here are giving up on the political process. That’s not what I see here tonight.” Sanders told the audience in Arizona, a state that has voted for Republican presidential nominees in all but one of the past 10 national elections.

The big show of support was the latest hard evidence of a grassroots movement to take on what Sanders calls the “billionaire class.” The biggest crowd before Phoenix was in Madison, Wisconsin, where 10,000 people filled an arena.

Sanders on Sunday will take his message to Texas, which has gone with the Democratic nominee only three times in the last 40 years. He plans rallies in Dallas and Houston. Next weekend he heads to Louisiana and during August will go to Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina.

“Progressives will never win unless we plant a flag in these states. The Democratic Party cannot abdicate and surrender half the states in the country,” Sanders said in a statement.

July 6, 2015
Contact: Michael Briggs

Mainers Back Bernie at Big Rally

Thousands Turn Out at Portland Arena

PORTLAND, Maine – More than 7,500 people packed an arena here Monday night in another big show of grassroots support for Bernie Sanders.

“In case you didn’t notice, this is a big turnout,” Sanders told the placard-waving crowd as they cheered his call to take on the billionaire class and rebuild the American middle class.

“From Maine to California, the American people understand that establishment politics and establishment economics are not working for America,” Sanders said. “They understand that the greed of Wall Street and corporate America is destroying the great middle class of this country and people from coast to coast are saying, ‘You can’t keep getting away with it.’”

In his fiery speech, Sanders pledged to address gaps in wealth and income inequality that are greater than at any time since the Great Depression. The big turnouts, he said, are sending a powerful message that Americans are tired of a system rigged to help the rich and powerful instead of working families.

“It is not acceptable that a handful of billionaires is now controlling our political process and the time is long overdue for the corporate media to start talking about the real issues,” Sanders said. “People are becoming involved in this campaign because they want change – real change – and that is what this campaign is about.”

Sanders was introduced by Troy Jackson, a logger from Allagash, Maine, who praised the senator’s willingness to take on “the big corporate structure.” Sanders’ proposals for improving health care, raising the minimum wage and making higher education tuition-free also were cited by the Democratic National Committee member and former Maine Senate majority leader. “What a lot of people are feeling is that there is somebody speaking to their issues,” Jackson told the Portland Press-Herald. “That’s why you’re seeing so many people come out.”

He also called for closing tax loopholes that let profitable corporations stash income in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens. He said he would break up the largest financial institutions in the country that are bigger today than before they were bailed out by taxpayers after the 2008 Wall Street crash.

The Portland turnout was another in a string of big crowds coming out for Sanders. A 10,000-seat arena in Madison, Wisconsin, was filled to capacity last Wednesday when more people turned out than for any presidential candidate anywhere so far this campaign. On the Friday night before the Fourth of July, more than 2,500 showed up at a convention center in Council Bluffs, Iowa, the biggest Iowa audience for any candidate to date.


July 3, 2015
Contact: Michael Briggs

Sanders Sets 2016 Iowa Turnout Record

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — The biggest Iowa crowd so far for any presidential candidate turned out on a Friday night in Council Bluffs to hear Bernie Sanders ask them to join a new American political revolution to reclaim the government of the United States from the billionaire class.

At least 2,600 people filled the 2,300 chairs at the Mid-America Convention Center and stood at the rear of the cavernous convention hall.

It was a remarkable turnout on the eve of Saturday’s Fourth of July celebration as the Bernie called on them to join a mass movement to restore the once-great American middle class.

They cheered when he called for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. They applauded when he said it’s time to break up the big banks on Wall Street. They shouted approval when he credited Pope Francis for his call for bold action to prevent catastrophic climate change. They rose to their feet when he said the United States should join every other major country and provide health care as a right of citizenship.


July 1, 2015
Contact: Michael Briggs

Thank You Wisconsin, Sanders Tells 10,000 at Madison Coliseum

MADISON, Wis. – Addressing the largest campaign crowd so far in a packed coliseum here on Wednesday night, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders called wealth and income inequality the great moral, economic and political issue of our time.

The crowd at Veterans Memorial Coliseum – The Associated Press put the count at 10,000 – was the largest turnout so far this campaign season for any presidential nominee.

“Tonight we have made a little bit of history,” Sanders said as the crowd roared. “Tonight, we have more people at a meeting for a candidate for president of the United States than any other candidate …,” he said as the applause drowned him out. “Thank you.”

Sanders said the size of the turnout sends an important message. “This campaign is not about Bernie Sanders. It is not about Hillary Clinton or anybody else. It is about you,” Sanders said as he surveyed the audience. “It is about putting together a grassroots movement of millions of people to make sure the government works for all of us and not a handful of wealthy campaign contributors.”

Sanders spelled out policy prescriptions to reverse the 40-year decline of the middle class and narrow the wealth and income gap that is greater today in the United States than at any time since before the Great Depression.

To help 5 million workers get the overtime pay they deserve, Sanders applauded President Barack Obama’s proposal on Tuesday to help more workers qualify for time-and-a-half pay when they work longer than 40 hours a week.

To help young African-American and Latino youths find work, he proposed a massive jobs program to hire young workers.

To create 13 million jobs, Sanders has proposed a $1 trillion investment in rebuilding crumbling roads and bridges.

To make higher education accessible, he proposed tuition-free enrollment in four-year public colleges and universities. To provide Americans better health care at less cost, he proposed a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system.

To ensure a living wage, he would increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

May 31, 2015
Contact: Michael Briggs

What a Week

MINNEAPOLIS – A long line of people snaked for blocks outside the Minneapolis American Indian Center on Sunday as another overflow crowd turned out to hear Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders talk about his Agenda for America to create jobs and rebuild the middle class.

More than 2,000 people packed into a basketball gymnasium and as many more stood outside on a cool Minnesota morning cheering loudly when the U.S. senator from Vermont thundered, “Our country belongs to all of our people and not just a handful of billionaires.”

It was the biggest turnout since last Tuesday when more than 5,000 supporters showed up to support Sanders at his formal campaign kickoff rally at a lakefront park created along Lake Champlain in Burlington when he was mayor.

In less than a week, Sanders took his message to more than 10,000 people from the packed-pews of the old South Church in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to a standing-room-only meeting at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa.

The turnouts reflected the building momentum of what Bernie said must be a mass movement to create a “political revolution” aimed at restoring democracy for the people in the United States. “We are going to go directly to the people in meetings like this and we’re going to be knocking on doors all over Minnesota and all across America,” Sanders told the big and boisterous audience here in that state that holds caucuses early next year when the presidential nominating process gets underway.

He laid out detailed policy prescriptions including a $1 trillion push to rebuild America’s crumbling roads and bridges and create 13 million good-paying jobs. He said he will lead the effort in Congress to block a new 12-nation trade deal that would ship more American jobs to low-wage nations overseas. He called for raising the minimum wage eventually to $15 an hour from today’s starvation wage of $7.25 an hour. He said the wealthy and profitable corporations should not be allowed to continue evading taxes by sheltering profits in offshore tax havens like the Cayman Islands. He said 4-year public colleges and universities should be tuition free. He advocated a Medicare-for-all, single-payer health care system.

“Think big,” Sanders exhorted the crowd.

“Bernie Sanders can’t do it alone. We have got to do it together through a strong grassroots movement,” he said. “We have got to think big. Imagine a nation and a government that works for all of us, not a government dominated by billionaires and their lobbyists. We have got to stand together because when we do there are a heck of a lot more of us than them.