PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders held a rally at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center Thursday morning.
It was the first campaign rally in Pittsburgh by any 2016 presidential candidate.
Sanders wasted no time getting to the core issues of his campaign. He was joined by local union leaders and spoke about what he called “disastrous trade agreements created out of corporate greed.”
He also criticized Hillary Clinton and the Super PACs that support her campaign, describing what he called a “corrupt and complex campaign system.”
“My message for corporate America is your greed is going to end. You are not going to continue to de-industrialize the United States of America. You are not going to be able to shut down plants here and move to cheap labor abroad. You’re not going to cut wages and benefits of American workers and give CEOs huge compensation packages. Together, we are going to create an economy that works for all of us, not just the one percent,” Sanders said.
There was no shortage of people for the first Pittsburgh campaign stop among the presidential candidates. The crowd that packed the Convention Center is now estimated at 8,500 people.
“Guaranteed his polls won’t drop. He will make it to the top. Go Bernie go, Go Bernie go,” Jim Kalina said.
Sanders told the crowd that his humble beginnings guide his political philosophy.
“The lessons that I learned growing up about what it means to live in a family that has to struggle everyday economically, is a lesson I have never forgotten and never will forget,” said Sanders.
Young people and middle-aged voters are finding inspiration from his message.
“Someone is finally speaking for the working class people. Someone is saying my voice. Someone else is saying the things that need to be told to America,” said one rally-goer.
Thousands of very enthusiastic Bernie Sanders supporters gathered outside the Convention Center early Thursday to wait for the Vermont senator to arrive.
“What it all comes down to is, we probably won’t have a candidate like Bernie during my lifetime again, or if we do, it’ll be a long time before it comes. So, it’s important to us to be able to come here and see him when we have the chance,” Pitt sophomore Derek Jones said.
Jones and a group of friends arrived at 1:30 a.m. and secured the first spots in line. Eventually, the line stretched the length of the building and crawled deep into the parking garage.
“We drove for five hours this morning…It was a long drive, but we wanted to see Bernie,” Serena Kozokas, of Wilkes-Barre, said. “I just wanted to come and see the crowd and feel the energy of Bernie speaking. I just thought it would be really great.”
The crowd was mostly made up of people in their 20s and 30s.
“I think he’s the perfect candidate for what we’re looking for as we head into the workforce,” Duquesne University student Don Crawford said. “The voting age is 18. You can never really be too young to support the political process and to really care about the current state of the United States.”
However, some who attended aren’t even old enough to vote.
“I’m excited to hear his speech and tell the world about what he can do,” 9-year-old Libby Gallick said.
“I remember a long time ago, my mom talking about how President Kennedy came to, close to our hometown in the 1960 election,” Theresa Gallick said. “In her memory, I wanted to come and do this.”
While Hillary Clinton continues to lead in delegates for the Democratic nomination, Sanders won’t go away.
He just won a string of caucuses and he’s hoping to win in Wisconsin next week, before doing battle here in Pennsylvania.