A roving Dakota Free Press correspondent caught the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign event in Minneapolis yesterday.
The Sanders campaign advertised coffee and bagels at 9:30 a.m. with a town hall meeting starting at 10:00. Our correspondent arrived at the Minneapolis American Indian Center at 8:30 a.m. and found a line of forty people. “By the time the gate opened the crowd was huge. I overheard someone with a name tag say that they planned on 1,800, but 3,000+ had signed up plus those that just showed up.” The Minneapolis Star-Tribune also estimates the crowd exceeded 3,000; The Uptake says over 3,700.
The enthusiastic crowd gave Sanders several standing ovations for the policy positions he staked out. Our correspondent says Sanders focused his speech on his major issue, “income inequality and the power of the oligarchs.” Sanders addressed climate change, universal pre-K, and free post-secondary education. Sanders also mentioned his support for single payer health care, increasing Social Security benefits, abolishing big money in politics and returning power to the people as well as pay equity.
Sanders spoke for a bit over 40 minutes but had to leave before taking audience or press questions due to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s failed last-minute Sunday vote call on the Patriot Act. Here’s his full speech, as recorded from stage right by The Uptake:
Sanders apologized for not having enough food for all attendees. Other than bagel depletion, our correspondent said the ran smoothly: “The event started on time and most of the work was done by well trained volunteers.” Take that organizational skill on ten days’ notice as a sign that Sanders can mount a credible campaign.
And South Dakota Democrats, take note: Sanders can draw a crowd with a call to populist “revolution” that resonates very much with the strongest message of your 2014 Senate nominee, Rick Weiland. South Dakota Democrats, if you want to fill seats, make news, and get out the message of taking the country back from the “Koch Brothers and Wall Street and Exxon Mobil,” you should invite Sanders to the county fair circuit this summer.
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The Uptake‘s Bill Sorem also recorded some comments from folks who came to listen to Sanders in Minneapolis yesterday:
Update 10:10 CDT: Salon‘s Sean McElwee writes that America has “fallen into neo-feudalism” with the middle-class mostly falling into assetless servitude. I think that’s what Bernie’s saying.