Teamwork was the focus of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ address to the crowd that assembled in the Schottenstein Center on Sunday night to catch a glimpse of the Democratic presidential candidate before Tuesday’s Ohio primary.
“I think on Tuesday, we are going to win here in Ohio. And the reason we are going to win is we are in the process together of revitalizing American democracy,” Sanders said at the “Future to Believe In” rally. “If we stand together, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.”
In the hour leading up to the senator’s arrival, chants of “feel the ‘Bern’” echoed through the arena while an eclectic mixtape of music, ranging from Muse to Bob Marley, blared through the speakers suspended above a mass of blue-sign-waving supporters.
Ohio State student Morgan Johnson, a third-year in public affairs, spoke to the crowd before Sanders took the stage.
“For once, it feels like it is going to be ‘we the people’ again. It is not going to be ‘we the money’ or ‘we the lobbyists,’ it is going to be ‘we the people,’ one person, one vote,” said Johnson, who serves as state director of College Students for Bernie in Ohio. “(Sanders) has inspired action, we have seen young people around the country getting together.”
A little after 6 p.m., Sanders arrived at the podium, greeted by a roar of cheers, claps and whistles.
He began his speech by addressing remarks made by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who cancelled a rally in Chicago as a result of protests the businessman claimed were spurred on by Sanders’ supporters.
“A candidate for president of the United States should condemn violence, not encourage violence,” Sanders said in response to Trump saying he would ask his attorneys to look into paying the legal bills for an attendee charged with punching a protester at one of his rallies. “You don’t go around and say it is okay to beat someone up and ‘I’ll pay the legal fees,’ that is not what this country is about.”
Sanders did not only make a point to highlight the differences between himself and Trump. The senator also devoted a significant portion of his speech to emphasizing what sets his campaign apart from that of former Secretary of State and current Democratic Party frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
“Those differences are pretty profound,” he said. “You can tell a lot about a candidate based on how he or she raises money for his or her campaign.”
Following a cheer of “Bernie Sanders has our backs, we don’t need a super PAC,” which was started organically by a lone voice in the crowd, the senator smiled and said, “You know what? We don’t need a damn super PAC.”
“But Secretary Clinton has gone a different route. What she has done is establish several super PACs,” Sanders added. “Who knows if what she says behind closed doors to Wall Street is what she says to the American people.”
Other issues mentioned during the rally included Sanders’ views on prison reform, increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour and tuition-free education at public colleges and universities.
“Our job is to encourage people to get an education, not punish them for getting an education,” he said. “The world has changed. The economy has changed. Today, people need more education than they used to. So when we talk about public education, we cannot just talk about first grade through 12th grade. That was good back then. It doesn’t work today.”
As he concluded his speech, Sanders explained that bringing about change is never easy.
“What American history is about is that change never happens from the top down, but from the bottom up,” he said. “Employers in companies did not give workers the right to form a union, workers fought for that right. They got beaten up, went to jail and even died for that right.Nobody gave African Americans their freedom. People fought and died for that right.”
As the clapping in the room continued to crescendo, Sanders promised supporters that he is the right choice to represent the Democratic Party going into the general election and asked attendees for their support.
“Here is the simple truth about (the Ohio primary on Tuesday). If there is a large voter turnout, we will win. If there is a low voter turnout, we will lose,” he said. “If the Democratic Party wants the strongest candidate to defeat Donald Trump, you’re looking at that candidate.”
Sanders returned to campus later Sunday evening to participate in a town hall forum hosted by CNN and TV One in OSU’s Mershon Auditorium. A recap of that event can be found here. Republican Party presidential candidate and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz also stopped in Columbus to host a rally at the Northland Performing Arts Center. A recap of that event can be found here.