Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders spoke at a rally in Albany Monday before about 4,000 supporters. The Vermont U.S. Senator emphasized his usual themes, but also called for a nationwide ban on hydrofracking.
Outside the Washington Avenue Armory it was overcast with high winds. Inside: high energy. Before taking the stage, Sanders spoke to supporters who couldn’t get in. There were plenty of people “feeling the Bern” in the 40-degree weather. Sanders supporters echoed some of his biggest talking points including free public education, income and racial inequality, and combating greed on Wall Street. Nick Bernard said it’s important to differentiate between Sanders and his rival, former New York Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"I think that when people say it minimizes the difference between the candidates and shuts down any discussion on who took 250,000 in speaking fees, who took money from Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, I think it shuts down meaningful discussion that would otherwise sway a lot of people."
Volunteers circled the Armory before the rally, reminding supporters to vote for Sanders delegates next Tuesday. Volunteer Diana Wright made the rounds with a sample ballot.
"You need to vote for his delegates on row A also because those are going to be the people to vote for Bernie in the convention in Philadelphia," Wright said. "So it very very important. Don't just vote for Bernie, vote for everyone on row A."
Once inside the venue, supporters had to wait three hours for the Senator to arrive. Finally, Sanders emerged. The lively crowd appeared to catch him off-guard.
"This is a large crowd, a raucous crowd. Woah!" Sanders exclaimed. "And a very loud crowd."
Sanders mostly stuck to his standard stump speech, issues like income inequality to climate change. He also called for a nationwide ban on hydrofracking…
"We need to put an end to fracking. Not only in New York and Vermont but in every state in the country."
Sanders had credited New York activists for their work on the state’s hydrofracking ban. But one of the loudest cheers came after Sanders criticized Wall Street, Super PACs, and the owners of America’s biggest retailer, Wal-Mart...
"A rigged economy is when the working people of this country subsidize the wealthiest family in America," Sanders said. "So I say to the Walton family, get off of welfare, pay your workers a living wage."
He also called for the ending of corporate prisons and detention centers. He said Americans are disproportionately imprisoned due to their race. Sanders emphasized that although whites and blacks smoke marijuana at approximately the same rate, African Americans are four times as likely to be imprisoned for possessing it. He also said that police departments need to reflect the communities they serve and that U.S. needs to cut down on militarized police.
"Let us also be clear, that we need to train police departments all over this country that lethal force is the last option, not the first option," Sanders said.
Sanders trails Clinton in polls in New York, and he urged voters to make history.
"And what I have learned in this campaign so far, we win when the voter turnout is high, we lose when it is low," said Sanders. "Let us next week have the highest voter turnout in the history of New York State."
Indeed, this year’s primary has given New York voters unusual clout: a few hours after Sanders wrapped up, Republican frontrunner Donald Trump rallied a few blocks away.
If you want to listen to a full version of Bernie Sanders speech it is online here.
Here's a full video of the rally that was posted on the campaign's YouTube channel: