“What This Campaign Is About Is Creating A Political Revolution”

Photo: AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., pauses while speaking during a campaign rally at St. Mary's Park, Thursday, March 31, in the Bronx borough of New York.
To Lina Wu, the issues at stake in this year's election are clear: reproductive rights, racial equality, protections for LGBTQ communities. And, as a student at New York University, the skyrocketing cost of college is, of course, top of mind. Wu, 18, thinks Bernie Sanders is by far the best candidate to tackle those priorities, in part because she feels he actually interacts and communicates with groups she cares about. So she joined throngs of other Sanders supporters and headed to a Bronx park on Thursday afternoon, waiting four hours to hear the senator from Vermont speak. "It was worth it," she told Refinery29 during a livestream of the rally on Facebook.

Sanders energized the crowd with promises to address the key issues cited by Wu — along with other planks of his platform — during a 40-minute stump speech. Vows to act on income inequality, climate change, paid family leave, and single payer health care were met with cheers and applause. His campaign said late Thursday that 18,500 were in attendance. "What this campaign is about," Sanders told the supporters gathered in Saint Mary's Park, "is creating a political revolution." Both Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have ramped up campaigning in New York ahead of the state's April 19 primary. With about 250 delegates at stake, the Empire State is a major prize in the final stretch of the primary campaign for the Democratic nomination. Big wins in major contests on the calendar in April could help give Sanders the momentum — and delegate math — needed to close in on Clinton's lead.
Photographed by Chandler West
Oscar Salazar, 20, offers up hugs ahead of Sanders' remarks.
"On April 19, this state will be having a very important primary. If there is a large voter turnout we will win," Sanders said. "If we can win here in New York, we are going to make it to the White House." That wasn't lost on many Sanders fans attending the rally. “I got my whole family registered," said Oscar Salazar, a 20-year-old supporter who had a shirt featuring a montage of the candidate's face and a "Free Bernie Hugs" sign. Salazar, who is from Westchester County, said he's been a Sanders supporter since the start of the senator's candidacy. "He's been on the right side of history, his whole life," he said. Salazar dismissed the narrative that Sanders' base is dominated by older, white Americans. “A lot of people think it’s just white people supporting him, but every person I know, Hispanic, white, Black, are representing Bernie all the way," he said.
Photographed by Chandler West
Rebecca Vitale told Refinery29 that she's drawn to Sanders' stances on campaign finance, reproductive rights, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and other major issues.
Sanders' swing through New York City came one day after Clinton rallied her own supporters at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Speaking to a packed venue, the former secretary of state addressed criticism that Sanders is proposing bigger solutions for tackling income inequality and other major issues facing the country. "My opponent says we’re just not thinking big enough. Well, this is New York. Nobody dreams bigger than we do," Clinton, who represented the state in the U.S. Senate, said. "But this is a city that likes to get things done, and that’s what we want from our president, too. We need a president who will help break down all of the barriers holding back Americans, not just some. I take a backseat to no one in taking on income inequality." But many Sanders supporters in the crowd weren't buying that argument. Rebecca Vitale said she worries that Clinton will bring “more of the same sh*t" for the country." But when it comes to Sanders, Vitale said she "can’t think of anything he's said that doesn’t make sense to me." "I think Hillary is probably pretty scared right now," the 34-year-old Manhattanite said said. "He has momentum."

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