Sanders Wows 2,500 in Silicon Valley Stump

     SAN JOSE, Calif. (CN) — Amid a chorus of questions about the value of his campaign’s persistence in the face of difficult odds, Bernie Sanders addressed a crowd of about 2,500 people in San Jose.
     The campaign stop at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, where daytime temperatures of 87 degrees failed to deter a large turnout of Sanders supporters, was one of several the U.S. Senator from Vermont is undertaking as he prepares for the June 7 California primary.
     “On June 7, we have an enormously important primary here, in fact, it is the most important primary in the nominating process,” Sanders told the energetic crowd toward the end of the speech. “Four hundred seventy-five delegates are up.”
     Sanders appeared to acknowledge that he needs not only a victory in California, but a landslide for math to work in his favor as he pursues the nomination against frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
     “If we have high voter turnout we will not only win, but we will win by a lot, which is what we need to do,” Sanders said.
     The demographics of the crowd skewed noticeably younger, as is the pattern for Sanders. His message, particularly relating to student debt and a rigged economic system, seems to resonate with young people.
     “This is a campaign I believe in,” Kat Lucas, a 28-year-old San Jose resident and a student at San Jose State, said. “He is the first politician in my lifetime with this level of integrity. He votes for what he believes in and not what the lobbyists pay him to vote for.”
     Lucas said she is aware that most experts believe the Sanders campaign faces long odds, but said Sanders continues to demonstrate to the Democratic Party that the issues he discusses are important to a large segment of the electorate.
     “I think he should stay strong until the end,” she said. “Even if he doesn’t get the delegates, the impact on the party is massive enough to be worth it.”
     It wasn’t just the young who showed up, however.
     Bob Bogardos, a 60-year-old IT architect from Carmel, California, drove up to San Jose with his wife Rita to hear Bernie speak.
     “I came to hear him talk about issues that I’ve been concerned about for 30 years,” he said. “The rich seem to be getting richer, while the poor get poorer and the middle class disappears. I think Bernie gives an avenue of hope that we can make changes and make our society more equitable.”
     Like Lucas, Bogardos said the Bernie campaign goes “beyond whether he gets nominated,” calling the campaign a “front wave” of a general movement.
     Sanders did not say the name Hillary Clinton once during the approximately 20-minute speech, saving his pointed barbs for the presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
     “This campaign is about bringing people together, not separating,” Sanders said. “I hear from people who are concerned Donald Trump will become president. It will not happen.”
     The majority of Americans reject the basic tenets of what Trump stands for, which include insulting Latinos, Mexicans and Muslims, Sanders said.
     Sanders also urged those assembled to vote to legalize marijuana in California and to vote yes on the California Drug Price Relief Initiative, which seeks to limit the amount any state agency pays for pharmaceutical drugs.
     Beyond the California-specific stumping, Sanders struck all the familiar themes of wealth inequality, racial injustice, gender discrimination and environmental degradation at the hands of greedy corporations.
     “We are getting so much support because we offer a vision of America that is based on social justice, economic justice, racial justice and environmental justice,” Sanders said.
     Along with pointing out that the top tenth of the top 1 percent possess as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent, Sanders advocated for free education at public universities and allowing individuals with student debt to refinance loans to get a better rate.
     He said he would work to implement universal health care, mandatory paid family leave, criminal justice reform, equal pay for women, the reconstruction of inner cities and better treatment for Native American communities living on reservations.
     Sanders left immediately after the speech with another campaign event scheduled to commence 70 miles away in Vallejo the same evening.

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