Bernie Sanders has been running for president for two months, but Wednesday night in Madison, Wisconsin, his long-shot campaign got real.
When Sanders walked on stage at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, he was greeted by a raucous, howling crowd of 9,600 people, according to Sanders’ campaign aides and arena staff.
A clearly energized Sanders, who late last year was speaking to crowds of 50 people in Iowa classrooms, appeared taken aback by the reception he received.
“Whoa,” he said. “In case you haven’t noticed, there are a lot of people here.”
Sanders’ campaign has been organizing the event for weeks, but just recently started telling reporters that 9,000 people signed up to attend.
Sanders, who is rising in the primary polls and trails only Hillary Clinton, only mentioned the former secretary of state once in his speech.
“This campaign is not about Bernie Sanders, it is not about Hillary Clinton, it is not about anyone else, it is about you,” Sanders said to sustained applause.
Sanders worked the rope line after the event — something the Vermont senator rarely does.
“The message is resonating, not just in Wisconsin, but all over America,” Sanders told CNN. “The people are sick and tired of establishment politics, establishment economics. They want real change.”
Madison is a special place like Berkeley and Austin where the far left holds sway. It’s official tagline is “77 square miles surrounded by reality.” It’s not surprising that a socialist like Bernie Sanders would have a few fans there.
But 10,000 people on a weeknight in July with the first primary still over six months away?? Those are Taylor Swift numbers.
Hillary has got to be a little nervous after what happened the last time. While it’s true that Madisonites don’t represent mainstream Democrat voters they do represent the people who are most likely to vote in a low turnout primary.
Hillary is basing her campaign upon inevitability. She wants a coronation, not a fight for the nomination. It’s not that Bernie is a real threat, it’s that if he pierces that aura of invincibility then other Democrats may start coming out of the woodwork to challenge her.
She’s not exactly generating a lot of enthusiasm, now is she?
This could get interesting.