Less than twenty-four hours after setting an attendance record with a huge rally in Seattle, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has done it again.
Everything came together quite nicely for Bernie’s visit to Portland, Oregon, with an estimated 28,000 people turning out to hear his speech inside and outside of the Moda Center in the Rose Quarter, the home stadium of the Portland TrailBlazers. That’s nearly twice as large as yesterday’s record crowd in Seattle.
“Whoa. This is an unbelievable turnout,” Sanders remarked after beginning his address to the Portland crowd. “You’ve done it better than anyone else.”
It helped that Sanders was in one of the city’s biggest venues.
Originally, Sanders was going to speak at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which only seats around thirteen thousand people. But anticipating a massive turnout, organizers moved the speech to the Moda Center, which can accommodate nineteen thousand people in an optimal people-friendly configuration.
It’s a good thing they did.
Based on what we’ve read, Sanders’ Portland speech was very similar to his Seattle speech. He talked about getting big money out of elections, tackling the climate crisis by putting a price on pollution, requiring a minimum amount of paid sick leave, family leave, and vacation leave, and getting rid of tuition to make college accessible to millions more young people. He also spoke of the need to give diplomacy a chance by standing behind President Obama’s accord with Iran.
No other presidential candidate, Republican or Democrat, has been drawing the kind of crowds that Sanders has. This weekend, in the Pacific Northwest’s largest cities, audiences the size of cities showed up to hear Bernie. That’s a big deal.
Hillary Clinton had better believe that Bernie is quite capable of mounting a credible challenge to her… not just in Iowa and New Hampshire, but states all over the country. The Democratic Party here in Washington has opted to allocate its delegates using caucuses for 2016, and if Bernie is still in the race by late March of next year, he stands a chance of doing very well. Alaska and Hawaii Democrats will caucus on the same day that Washington does: March 26th, 2016.
Oregon, meanwhile, will allocate its delegates via primary late in the season.
Hillary Clinton generally did better in states with primaries in 2008 when she and Barack Obama were squaring off for the nomination. But that wasn’t always the case. Obama won a number of primaries held in the southeast and midwest, and he also won the 2008 Oregon primary. In the end, though, it was his stellar performance in early caucus states like Washington that gave him an edge.
The big upside for Clinton is that there will be much more interest in the presidential race on the Democratic side than there would be if she was running unopposed. A competitive presidential contest presents an unrivaled opportunity for partybuilding. Sanders is already capturing the imagination of the Democratic Party’s base by running a campaign built on bold ideas. Clinton may be considered the establishment candidate, but she’s free to run on bold ideas, too.
And she should. This certainly sounds like a promising development:
Hillary Clinton on Monday rolled out a sweeping higher education plan — a $350 billion proposal that would help millions pay for college and reduce interest rates for people with student loans.
The plan, which would change the way a large swath of Americans pay for college, borrows ideas from the left and the right and even expands a program enacted by her husband.
It includes ideas already being discussed in Congress and for which groundwork has been laid by the Obama administration. The proposal, dubbed the New College Compact, is unlikely to win over many in the GOP because the $350 billion over 10 years would come from cutting tax deductions for the wealthiest Americans.
Bernie Sanders has talked about ending tuition, as mentioned earlier. Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has, too. Now Clinton is coming out with a plan, which sounds achievable and realistic.
Even if it’s not as far-reaching as many progressives would like, it would still do a lot for students, and we commend her for putting it forward.
If Clinton wants to draw the kind of crowds Bernie’s been getting, though (in Phoenix, Seattle, and now Portland), she needs to be even bolder.