He may not be a rock star, but on Sunday afternoon at the Denver Convention Center, it was impossible to tell. As many as 10,000 excited men, women and children showed up to hear Vermont Democratic Presidential candidate---and front runner---Bernie Sanders speak. And, from all appearances, no one left disappointed.
When the doors to the Convention Center opened at three o’clock Sunday afternoon, Sanders wasn’t even in Colorado. He was busy wooing voters in Nevada, site of a must-win Democratic Primary Election set for Saturday, February 22nd. A win in Nevada will propel Sanders or whomever finishes first with a rocket-strength boost to the South Carolina Primary set for February 29th.
Nevada, unlike Iowa or New Hampshire, the first two states to hold presidential caucuses, will be a test for Sanders and the rest of the Democratic field. The Silver State represents a huge demographic sea change. In Iowa and New Hampshire, the voting pallet is overwhelming white. But in Nevada, the most recent census data show the state’s population in stark contrast. In a state of slightly more than three million---most in Clark County, where Las Vegas is---four in ten residents is Latino.
But on Sunday in Denver, it wasn’t Nevada on Sanders’ mind. It was winning Colorado and the state’s Presidential Primary election---March 3rd---and the hearts and minds of what he called ‘America’s forgotten,’ men and women; people who need better jobs, better health care and who want to fix a broken immigration system. But more than anything, said Sanders, people who want a President not named Donald Trump.
“We cannot continue to have a President who is a pathological liar,” said Sanders. He didn’t stop there, accusing Trump have running the most corrupt administration in recent history. He called Trump a bully, a racist, a homophobe and religious bigot. “And those are his best traits,” he said, sending the crowd into a spontaneous eruption of cheers and applause.
The delay in beginning the rally did not dissuade the mostly white audience, which spanned a wide age spectrum, one bit. Attendees arrived at a strong and steady pace until the floor of the convention center was filled to near capacity. To fill the time, the crowd was entertained by a musician who told the story of his walk across America and an interesting moment right here in Colorado.
One of his stops in his multi-thousand-mile trek across the country was “at the ICU at Parkview Hospital in Pueblo,” where he was treated for a rattlesnake bite. The medical team that treated him, he said, “were angels dressed up in hospital clothes.”
“He inspires me, said Brendon Hagerty, who was attending along with his wife and young baby. “He’s the first politician who, quite frankly, doesn’t make me want to kill myself,” the young father said in jest.
“I like Bernie because he supports keeping families together,” said Hagerty’s wife, who chose not to share her first name. “I come from an immigrant family so it’s very important to me.”
While the crowd may not have been entirely blue collar, almost to a person the blue collar theme of Sanders’ address hit home. He talked about the Trump budget in which he said there are planned “massive cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.”
For good measure, Sanders’ saved some of his ire for billionaires sharing a comment that “just three people own more wealth (in the country) than fifty percent of the country.” He didn’t name names, but he clearly was aiming his critique at billionaire and Presidential rival, Michael Bloomberg, whose wealth is estimated a $60 billion.