Thousands line up to see Bernie Sanders in Austin

Democratic Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders campaigns at the Circuit of the Americans in southeast Austin on Saturday, February 27.
Democratic Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders campaigns at the Circuit of the Americans in southeast Austin on Saturday, February 27.

Austin (KXAN) — Thousands lined up to see Sen. Bernie Sanders at Circuit of Americas Saturday morning, despite long security lines.

Sanders visited Austin to kick off his “Future to Believe in Austin Rally.” He took the stage just after noon.

At the beginning of his speech, Sanders pointed out Texas will vote for the most delegates of any state on Super Tuesday, with 222 pledged delegates of the 4,051 needed to win the nomination.

Sanders also said the nation’s minimum wage should be raised to $15 an hour, expand benefits to retired Americans, end homelessness among veterans and demand equal pay for women.

He asked the Austin crowd how many had student debt, which led to a lot of hands being raised.

“Unbelievable!” Sanders said of the Austin crowd. “This is an epidemic of debt.”

While talking about racial inequality, Sanders promised major reforms while attacking Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.

“We are not going to allow the Trumps of the world to divide us up,” Sanders said, which led to cheers. “And that we are going to bring major reforms to a broken, very broken, criminal justice system.”

Sanders said he will pursue a path toward citizenship for people in the U.S. illegally.

“I would hope that every American would stand up against the xenophobia and against the racism that we are hearing,” Sanders said. “It is not acceptable to refer to Mexicans who come into this country as criminals, as rapists, as drug dealers,” referring to Donald Trump’s comments last summer when announcing his run for President.

The Vermont Senator also says the campaign finance system in the U.S. is corrupt.

“We have – and it’s important to acknowledge this – a corrupt campaign finance system, which is undermining American democracy,” Sanders said. “One of the differences between Secretary Clinton and myself is she has a SuperPAC which is raising many millions of dollars from Wall Street, the drug companies, the fossil fuel industry,” which led to boos from the crowd.

Sanders also said his campaign has made history, with more than four million donations. He said no candidate has ever received that many donations this early in the election season.

Following the Austin rally, Bernie Sanders also traveled to Dallas as part of his Texas visit this weekend.

Currently, Hillary Clinton has taken the lead in Texas. Clinton has a full 10-percentage point lead over Sanders, according to the Texas Tribune poll. However, Clinton is behind in the age group favoring her, drawing support from 55-percent of voters ages 30 and older. Sanders is appealing to younger voters as the favorite for 62-percent of the 18 to 29 age bracket.

  • Hillary Clinton: 54%
  • Bernie Sanders: 44%

A few weeks ago, Clinton’s campaign opened an office in East Austin where Sanders already had an office.

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