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Davis, California

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Bernie Sanders draws crowd of over 9,000 to UC Davis

JAY GELVEZON / AGGIE
JAY GELVEZON / AGGIE

2016 Democratic presidential candidate touches on issues ranging from social justice to economic quality

2016 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders continued his tour of California on Wednesday, June 1, when he spoke to a crowd of more than 9,000 students and community members at UC Davis. Pushing his campaign’s dialogue on social justice and economic equality, Sanders’ appearance comes just ahead of the June 7 primary on Tuesday.

The event, which began at 8 p.m. at UC Davis’ Hutchison Intramural Field, opened with a speech by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), a veteran of the Iraq war, who spoke of her time in the military and her support for Sanders’ views on foreign policy.

“During my first deployment to Iraq, I worked in a medical unit where every single day I was confronted with that high and heavy cost of war,” Gabbard said. “I saw through those experiences just how critical it is that we elect a commander in chief that has good judgement, who has foresight and who knows when it may be necessary to use military power to defeat those who threaten the safety and security of the American people. I’m confident that Bernie Sanders has that intelligence.”

In a speech that lasted roughly an hour, Sanders covered several issues throughout the night, including his criticism of media, the need for environmental justice, and a call to reform California’s educational and prison systems.  

“In recent years here in California, but in all over this country, we have been busy building jails,” Sanders said. “We have built jails but not colleges. It’s time to reverse that trend. It is time to understand, that it cost less money to send a young person to the University of California than to send him to jail.”

Sanders, who serves as a state senator from Vermont, was an independent up until last year. As he seeks the Democratic nomination, Sanders has spoken recently of  his support to decriminalize marijuana, including last night when he encouraged voters in California to legalize the drug on the November ballot.

“We must rethink the so-called war on drugs,” Sanders said. “It turns out that over the last 30 years, millions of Americans have received police records, criminal records for the possession of marijuana. And if you are a 19-year-old kid applying for a job, and your prospective employer asks you if you’ve ever been arrested, that criminal record can cost you a job opportunity.”

With many college students in attendance, Sanders continued to make his case for free tuition at public universities, a platform that has strongly resonated with young voters, who continue to represent one of his largest groups of supporters this election.

“Young people are asking me a very important question,” Sanders said. “‘How does it happen that when young people do exactly the right thing and go out and try to get the best education that they can, why is it that they are ending up 30, 50, 70 thousand dollars in debt?’ We live in a competitive global economy. We need the best educated workforce in the world. We should be encouraging, rewarding people, to get an education, not punishing them.”

Leading up to the California primary, Sanders has managed to build a campaign that has competed heavily with his Democratic competitor, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Sanders, who has recently stepped up his criticism of Clinton and the Democratic establishment, continues to see his polling numbers rise ahead of Tuesday’s primary.

In a statement released before Wednesday’s event, Davis Students for Hillary urged Sanders to tone down his attacks on Secretary Clinton, arguing that she remains the likely nominee for the Democratic party in the presidential election.

“When this campaign began supporters of Secretary Clinton had great respect and admiration for Senator Sanders,” read the press release. “Senator Sanders’ focus on attacking Secretary Clinton’s character, and questioning the character of her supporters has strained that support among democrats. Progressive democrats like Governor [Jerry] Brown and Senator [Barbara] Boxer have done great work for the people of California, we should celebrate these efforts. Today we hope Senator Sanders focuses on policy. We hope he comes to Davis with an inclusive message.”

As Sanders continues to make his case for the Democratic nomination, he hopes that a win in California next Tuesday can boost his chances for November. As he spoke to the crowd in Davis, he urged voters to show up and lend their support.

“Let us have the largest voter turnout in democratic primary history in California,” said Sanders, to an enthusiastic crowd of supporters. “And let this great state, this progressive state, tell the world you are going to help lead us into the political revolution.”

Written by: Ivan Valenzuela – campus@theaggie.org

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