Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders told supporters they were making history as he live-streamed from a modest, packed, and steamy apartment in Washington, D.C on Wednesday night.
Delivering remarks off a yellow legal pad balanced precariously on a wobbly music stand, Sanders said no campaign has ever held such a large online organizing effort so early on in the campaign.
“The American people are saying loudly and clearly enough is enough,” he said.
The Democratic presidential hopeful hit the major themes of his campaign, such as income inequality, raising the minimum wage, and campaign finance reform. But just weeks after the senator’s speech at a progressive event was interrupted by “Black Lives Matter” protestors, he stressed the need to “combat institutional racism in America” and criminal justice reform.
“We are tired of seeing black women yanked out of a car thrown to the ground. Assaulted, put in handcuffs and then sent to jail and die three days later in the case of Sandra Bland. For what crime? She didn’t signal.”
After thanking supporters for “for participating in this political revolution,” he handed over the event to a digital organizer to provide viewers with instructions on how to get involved.
The Vermont Independent’s campaign says more than 100,000 people signed up to attend one of 3,500 gatherings across the country. After the event he told the media “we never dreamed this campaign would move as quickly as it has and in fact part of the problem we are having is the campaign is moving much faster than our political infrastructure.”
Manisha Sharma, the host of the gathering, signed up just a week ago to host a small event from her apartment after reading a news article about the effort. She has never participated in any political organizing before but was impressed with Sanders’ position on financial regulation and wanted to get involved. She was shocked and excited when the campaign called her just days ago to tell her that the Senator would do the live cast from her place.
Sharma presented Sanders with a poster of Mahatma Gandhi with a quote which Sanders read: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, and then you win,'” adding “maybe that is what this campaign is about.”
Since the official campaign launch three months ago Sanders has drawn large crowds from Arizona to Louisiana but he is still trailing Hillary Clinton by 40 points. Clinton held an online organizing event the day of her campaign launch that reached around 650 parties across the country.
When asked about his democratic rival he quickly responded, “tonight we are focused on building strong grass movement that is how we are going to win this election so I’m going to take a night off from Hillary Clinton, if that’s okay."