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Explore our coverage of government and politics.

Bernie Sanders Holds First Home State Rally of Presidential Campaign

Months after announcing his second presidential bid, Sen. Bernie Sanders held his first Vermont rally on the steps of the state capitol on Saturday.

City officials estimated that between 1,500 and 2,000 people attended the rally.

The event featured a number of speakers including Vermont Congressman Peter Welch and Ben and Jerry’s co-founder Ben Cohen, and a short set of songs from singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile.

Brandi Carlile plays at Sen. Bernie Sander's rally in Montpelier.
Credit Liam Elder-Connors / VPR
Brandi Carlile plays at Sen. Bernie Sander's rally in Montpelier.

Sanders, who spoke for nearly an hour, hit on the topics that have been his mainstays for years, like raising the minimum wage, breaking up large banks and creating a single-payer healthcare system.

He had harsh words President Donald Trump, calling him “the most dangerous president in the history of this country.”

By comparison, Sanders said if elected, his government would be one that emphasizes justice.

“Economic justice, racial justice, social justice and environmental justice,” he said to cheers. “Our campaign and our government is about bringing people together, not dividing them.”

The city estimates between 1500 and 2000 people attended the rally on Saturday.
Credit Liam Elder-Connors / VPR
The city estimates between 1500 and 2000 people attended the rally on Saturday.

That message resonated with the hometown crowd on Saturday. But in his second bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, unlike in 2016, Sanders faces a crowded field of contenders.

There are more than 20 candidates in the 2020 Democratic primary.

But Anne Burns thinks Sanders is a strong contender. She says unlike other candidates, Sanders has been at the forefront of progressive issues for years.

“Bernie has been consistent and he’s always been there and he’s saying the same things,” she said speaking after the rally. “His heart is really in it and I believe he will do it. In fact, I call him Saint Bernard because he's got a heart of gold.”

The city of Montpelier plans to ask the Sanders campaign for a donation to help cover municipal costs associated with the event.

Sanders will spend Memorial Day holding campaign events in New Hampshire.

Liam is Vermont Public’s public safety reporter, focusing on law enforcement, courts and the prison system.
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