State News

Sanders rallies thousands of supporters at Kohl Center

Image By: Jessi Schoville and Jessi Schoville

In one of his final appeals before Wisconsinites head to the polls, presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders spoke before an estimated crowd of 4,400 at the Kohl Center, days before what could be his final stand in his quest for the White House.

Sanders’ visit marked the first time a candidate has visited the Kohl Center since 2008, when then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama rallied supporters on the eve of the Wisconsin primary.

Sunday’s event had a different flavor, blending rock concerts with the type of raucous speeches that have become characteristic of Sanders’ campaign. Actresses Shailene Woodley and Rosario Dawson as well as Madison Mayor Paul Soglin were among the dignitaries to introduce Sanders.

The 74-year-old didn’t back down from his attempt to “start a political revolution,” discussing income inequality, student loan debt and challenging what he calls a “corrupt” campaign finance system.

“The things that we have thought were extraordinarily radical happened and they happened because people stood up and fought back,” Sanders said. “We can do it.”

Sanders spent far more time targeting Gov. Scott Walker than Hillary Clinton in his speech. Wisconsin’s voter ID laws were a particular focus, as Sanders called them “voter suppression tactics” and “undemocratic.”

“It has never occurred to me to make it harder to vote for people who might vote against me,” Sanders said, proclaiming that his presidential administration would be the “complete opposite” of Walker’s governorship.

The rally was not without controversy, however. Members of the #TheRealUW movement unveiled a banner and began chanting midway through the rally, but were drowned out. UW-Madison freshman Zawadi Carroll said the movement was not a protest but instead an effort to raise awareness of the group in light of recent incidents of racism on campus.

“We are here,” Carroll said. “People of color exist here and we won’t be silenced by the racism on campus.”

Sanders said that he hopes to bring all people together to vote for him Tuesday and expressed particular pride at the rate of young people supporting his campaign.

“People said that young people are too busy with their video games [to vote],” he said. “But I see so much hope in young people’s eyes. They know they are the future.”

UW-Madison sophomore and Sanders supporter Hannah Filippino said she is hopeful Sanders’ rally pushes her fellow students to the polls Tuesday.

“If there is any time to support him it is right before the big day,” Filippino said.

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