By: Shaelyn Thompson, News Crew Member
On Saturday, January 25th, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders hosted a rally at the Ames City Auditorium with director Michael Moore, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and musical guest Portugal. the Man. While Bernie had to cancel his earlier rallies planned in Iowa due to having to work in the ongoing impeachment trial, he was able to fly to Iowa just in time to make it to the Ames event.
Fans of the Democratic candidate showed up two hours before the event to stand in line and endure the cold temperatures in order to secure a seat in the auditorium. As the line continued to grow over the two hours, a man riding a tractor painted red, white and blue drove by the building multiple times yelling and waving his Trump 2020 flags. The growing crowd, however, seemed to be unphased and many ignored him while they talked to volunteers.
By the time the event started, the auditorium’s 881 seats had been filled completely, and over 500 guests had to watch the rally on a TV screen in an overflow room. Senator Sanders is a popular candidate here in Iowa, polling at 25 percent in the New York Times most recent poll.
One couple drove almost three hours from Fairfield, Iowa in order to see the Senator.
“We came to see Bernie this far because this would be our last chance before the caucus to come to one of his rallies,” Matthew Mclain commented when asked why he came to Ames. “Oftentimes we feel discouraged with how corrupt many senators and members of our government are, and attending rallies gives us hope.”
Portugal. The Man kicked off the rally with a concert. They sang covers of songs with political themes, like Pink Floyds “Another Brick In The Wall”, and ended their show by performing their hit song “Feel It Still”.
Michael Moore then gave the first speech of the night about the issues Bernie is focusing on such as free tuition, universal healthcare, immigration reform and raising the national minimum wage, as well as the changes to our country that he believes need to be implemented. He told the crowd that while there are a lot of progressive candidates one could caucus for on February 3rd, Bernie is the way to go because he beats Trump by the largest margin.
“One of the reasons we’re for Bernie is because it’s not enough to beat Trump,” Moore said. “Hillary beat Trump! It’s not enough to beat Donald Trump, we have to crush Donald J. Trump.”
After Moore, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave a short speech about her struggles as well as what Bernie would do as president. She told the audience that if they want to help Bernie make real change, they will first have to change themselves.
“It is going to require us to transform and grow as individuals,” She told everyone. “It’s going to take fighting for someone we don’t know.”
Bernie eventually took to the stage and restated all his plans for his first term of presidency if he is elected. He spoke about issues that directly affect college students, such as student loan debt. In the end, Bernie told his fans that he wants to completely transform how America is run.
“We’re not fighting to win an election, we’re fighting to start a movement,” was one of the last statements Bernie made in his speech.
The rally ended with Bernie meeting with some audience members while volunteers handed out volunteer signup sheets and encouraged people to knock on doors during the final days before the Iowa primaries.
The race to become the Democratic nominee starts with Iowa on Monday, February 3rd as Iowa is the first state to hold primaries. According to the New York Times’ poll, Sanders is 7 points in the lead in Iowa with Pete Buttigieg in second, Joe Biden in third and Elizabeth Warren in fourth. However, the winner of the Iowa caucus has yet to be determined, so it’s still anyone’s game.