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At Springfield Rally, Sanders Appeals For A Big Turnout In Massachusetts On Super Tuesday

Senator Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally in Springfield
Paul Tuthill
Senator Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally in Springfield

Democratic presidential front-runner Bernie Sanders is making a big push for votes in Massachusetts ahead of the state’s primary on Tuesday. 

The Sanders campaign scheduled back-to-back rallies in Springfield Friday night and Boston on Saturday. A music festival and get-out-the-vote effort dubbed “Berniepalooza” is taking place this weekend in Worcester.

A crowd topping 4,000 turned out for the Friday night rally in the MassMutual Center in downtown Springfield.

"We're having a lot of fun tonight," Sanders chuckled.

Sanders stressed the importance of the primaries this Tuesday when Massachusetts and 13 other states vote and a third of all the delegates to the Democratic nominating convention are on the line.

"I am here tonight to humbly ask for your support," said Sanders. "I am here to ask you to bring out your friends and your family and your co-workers so that we have the largest voter turnout in the history of the Massachusetts primary."

To make Sander’s self-described working-class grassroots movement succeed, a large, perhaps record-setting turnout will be needed.  He made clear at the Friday night rally that his campaign is counting on young voters, who as a group have a spotty record when it comes to turning to vote.

"You can't just sit back and watch the TV, you've got to get involved," Sanders said.

During the roughly 45 minute speech, Sanders hit all his familiar issues to often raucous applause from the big crowd.  He called for raising the federal minimum wage to $15, make it easier to join labor unions, provide free college tuition and universal pre-school, combat climate change, and his signature issue; Medicare-for-all.

"We will end the international disgrace of being the only country on earth not to guarantee health care to every man, woman, and child as a human right," declared Sanders.

Sanders never mentioned any of his Democratic rivals.  He spent a good amount of time during the speech assailing President Donald Trump.

"Donald Trump is a pathological liar, and no matter what your political view may be, you know we can not continue to have someone whose word means nothing because he lies all the time," said Sanders.

Polls ahead of Tuesday’s voting in Massachusetts show Sanders could beat Elizabeth Warren, dealing the state’s senior Senator an embarrassing setback to her presidential aspirations.

Waiting in line to get in to see Sanders Friday night, David Raphael of Conway, Massachusetts said he’s voting for Sanders over Warren because he thinks the Vermont Senator is more electable.

"A bigger following and a more solid message," said Raphael when asked what he believes gives Sanders the edge over Warren

Martha Westerdahl of Williamstown said she is voting for Sanders but concedes it was not an easy choice between him and Warren.

"I just think he is more committed to his positions and he's been in the saddle a lot longer," said Westerdahl.

Also speaking at Friday’s rally in Springfield were Democratic State Representatives Paul Mark and Lindsay Sabadosa, who are co-chairs of Sander’s presidential campaign in Massachusetts.

Musician Bela Fleck performed before Sanders took the stage.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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