If the turnout at today’s Bernie Sanders rally in Pittsburgh is any indication, the presidential hopeful could have a shot at winning Pennsylvania in the upcoming April 26 primary election. Thousands came out to the rally at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center this morning where some attendees had been waiting since 2:00 a.m.
“When we began this campaign 11 months ago, our campaign was considered to be fringe,” Sanders said after taking the podium. “With your support on April 26 and a large turnout, we’re going to win on April 26. Not only can we win the primary, but we can win with your help in the general.”
Sanders’ speech served as a road map of sorts, highlighting each of the demographic groups he and his opponent Hillary Clinton must appeal to in order to win the primary: women, African Americans, undocumented immigrants, Native Americans and the LGBT community. But throughout, there was a common thread tying the groups together: income inequality.
“Together we’re going to create an economy that works for all of us, not just the one percent,” Sanders said.
In his remarks, the Vermont senator spoke on an array of issues from a women’s right to choose to the Flint Michigan water crisis.
“It is not only Flint, it is cities all around the country,” Sanders said. “We have got to get our priorities right. We have to rebuild inner cities.”
Appealing to Pittsburgh’s labor roots, Sanders also spoke extensively on his opposition to trade agreements he claims are responsible for sending jobs overseas.
“We have lost since 2001 almost 60,000 factories in this country,” Sanders said. “Those jobs increasingly are gone and the new jobs are McDonald's and Burger King. I have opposed since day one every one of these disastrous trade agreements."
Sanders painted himself a stark contrast to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who he says has received a majority of her campaign contributions from corporate interests and Wall Street. Instead of taking their donations, Sanders said he would tax Wall Street to pay for his proposed reforms like single-payer health care and free college tuition.
"People say ‘ya know Bernie you sound like Santa Claus, you’re giving away all these great things. How are you going to pay for it?’” said Sanders. “If we can bail Wall Street out, now is the time for Wall Street to bail out the American people.”
Sanders closed by reflecting on the history of activism in America and the triumphs of the past decades, like women and African Americans gaining the right to vote and the widespread acceptance of gay marriage. He said the same movements responsible for these victories could be applied to today’s battles for equality and to get him elected.
“If someone had stood up ten years ago and said in 2014 gay marriage will be legal in 50 states,” said Sanders, “the person next to them would’ve said what the hell are you smoking … and that brings up a whole other question.”