PHILADELPHIA — Imanuel Mesiah from North Philadelphia has never voted before in a Presidential election. He said that’s about to change because Senator Bernie Sanders is running.
He’s going to be the next president of the United States and he came to the city that I’m from because he cares about poor people.
Mesiah joined thousands of other Sanders supporters at the Liacouras Center on Temple University’s campus on Wednesday night to see the Presidential hopeful speak.
The line for the rally wrapped around the arena and extended half a mile back to Girard Avenue. The earliest person began waiting in line at 6:30 AM. The turnout was so large, in fact, that thousands more couldn’t even get into the rally causing a 50 minute delay, but that was because Sanders surprised the overflow crowd next door at McGonigle Hall. When he eventually did arrive at the Liacouras Center, however, the room exploded.
“This looks like a political revolution,” Sanders said upon arrival.
Sanders, who just won the Wisconsin primary on Tuesday night, covered topics ranging from raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, advocating for universal healthcare, and, eliminating tuition fees and public colleges and universities, which generated one of the loudest cheers of the evening.. Every statement advocating for an issue on his platform that he made resulted in immense applause. When he described what he called a broken criminal justice system and drug laws that need reforming, the audience followed in suit with roaring boos.
Thousands waved campaign signs that read “A Future to Believe in” while others held homemade signs. Many people sported apparel in support of Sanders ranging from t-shirts with his face plastered over it to pins and even Bernie socks.
Francisco Rivera, a graduate student at Temple, said this was an experience that he’ll never forget.
“It’s a once in a lifetime experience to have a candidate such as Bernie Sanders who’s talking about the issues that really impact people.”
Haley Sienkiewicz, a junior at Temple, said she was glad she waited in the winding lines because the atmosphere was electric.
“I thought it was awesome. the crowd was really diverse. there was just so much energy and i’m so glad i was able to come.”
Pennsylvania voters will pick who they want to be the Democratic nominee on April 26th. 210 delegates are at stake in Pennsylvania, making it one of the largest battleground states left to vote. Sanders has won seven of the last eight contest, but still trails frontrunner Hillary Clinton by a significant margin.
Clinton also campaigned in Philadelphia on Wednesday at the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO constitutional convention at the Sheraton Hotel.