Bernie Sanders visited the University of New Hampshire (UNH) campus on Scott Hall Lawn on Monday, Sept 30 for a rally to conclude his New Hampshire College Tour. The free event, which featured live music from opener Jeff Beam, was packed with about 1,200 students and community members alike in support of the latest 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to visit the UNH campus.
“It was great! Having the opportunity to see candidates in person is hugely important to me,” senior business administration accounting major Edward Speidel said. “I attended because I closely follow politics and have been making efforts to hear all the candidates speak on their issues.”
In addition to inspiring votes for his presidential election campaign for 2020,
Sanders spoke to the UNH crowd regarding his platforms on economics, specifically the issues revolving around college tuition debt, social issues and climate change. Sanders urged college students to exercise their civic duty.
“You are a generation that is anti-racist, anti-sexist, and anti-homophobic,” Sanders said, explaining that college students have an enormous responsibility to get involved. “Make your peers understand, get their ass to the polling booth and get involved in politics!”
“This is just the start,” Sanders’ New Hampshire communications director Carli Stevenson said about the rally. She said the Sanders campaign will try and continue to win the support of students at UNH and that the great turnout is an indicator of that.
Sanders was introduced by former Democratic member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives in the United States and past candidate for the 2018 Democratic nomination for New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District seat Mindi Messmer, who used her time to remind students about the scientific evidence of climate change.
Messmer even began a chant of “Go Greta go,” referring to 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thurnberg.
“We need a bold leader who will act on global warming on day one in office,” Messmer said. “Bernie Sanders gets this. He has the boldest and most comprehensive plan to address climate change.”
Accompanied by cheers and chants, Sanders took the stage.
“If your generation voted at the same level of older people in America we could transform this country in a fundamental way,” Sanders said, reinforcing his idea that the future of the country rests in the hands of young people.
Sanders addressed the financial crisis of young college students across America, a topic that directly impacts a majority of students on campus.
“When we talk about higher education in America, we’ve got millions of people going deeply into debt,” Sanders said. “For doing what? For trying to get a good education.”
Sanders asked everyone the crowd to raise their hand if they were going to experience debt after graduation and as the crowd began to flood with a sea of raised arms, Sanders shook his head and muttered, “that is not right.”
“Four years ago, that was considered to be a radical idea but you know what?” Sanders said. “Young people and others all over this country said ‘You know what, hey establishment, we don’t want to be $50,000 to $100,000 in debt’ and what began to happen coast to coast, state after state, moved in the direction of making public colleges and universities tuition free.”
Though many attendees of the rally showed full support for Sanders, supporters of current president Donald J. Trump were in attendance as well. The rally was held in front of Congreve Hall, where a student had hung a “TRUMP” banner across their windows on full display behind Sanders.
Junior environmental science major Charles “CJ” Jackson held up a Trump 2020 sign, to which Sanders said “I think you’re a little outnumbered here.”
“I came just to spread awareness that Trump has a silent army as well,” Jackson said, expressing frustration that his sign was torn up by the end of the rally.
Sanders supporter Keith Yergeau was one of the few who held up a “Bernie Beats Trump” campaign sign in preparation of the event.
“His campaign is made up of the most diverse and strongest movement,” said Yergeau who noted that Sanders had his vote over the other 2020 presidential candidates.
During the anticipation of Sanders arrival, Portland, Maine-based musical artist Jeff Beam entertained the crowd with psychedelic indie rock.
“Playing before Bernie is a dream come true, I’m a big supporter,” Beam said. “A lot of the songs I write are about living in Trump’s America so to be up there and playing with Bernie was a really cathartic experience.”
Sanders ended the highly energized rally by sharing a quote from Nelson Mandela he had mentioned earlier in his speech.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done,” Sanders said, inspiring the crowd one last time before stepping off the stage to shake hands, greet students and continue along his campaign trail.