By Madison Friend
WORCESTER- More than 3000 people showed up to a rally at North High School Saturday night to show their support for Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders. Hundreds were diverted from the building to an overflow section outside, where Sanders first gave a shortened version of his remarks (lasting around 7 minutes) to keep supporters from waiting in the cold.
Upon taking the small stage that had been set up outside, Sanders said, “It’s safe to say there a few more people here than we expected…I am very sorry you guys can’t get inside.”
The assembled crowd was sorry too, but the attendees – many of whom can quote lines of Sanders’ stump speech from memory – took the disappointment in stride as a sign of how well the campaign is doing in a state it has devoted far fewer resources to than Iowa and New Hampshire. For his part, Sanders seemed confident that a win in the Massachusetts primary is not only possible, but likely.
“On March 1, Massachusetts has its primary,” he said to crowds in and outside the high school. “Don’t tell anyone, but we are going to win here.”
While fewer than the 10,500 Donald Trump drew to the DCU Center late last year, Sanders, his campaign, and supporters see the large crowds the candidate continues to attract as proof of the grassroots strength of a campaign that has been largely dismissed by the establishment media. Sanders is well-known for having little patience with the press, but his attacks against them have grown more frequent and direct in recent weeks in response to the relative lack of network coverage his campaign has received.
The rally came shortly before the announcement that the Vermont Senator had raised $33 million in the 4th fundraising quarter of the year, only $4 million less than his chief rival, Hillary Clinton. Not long after came news that Sanders had broken the record for the most individual contributions to a presidential campaign at this point in the race previously set by President Obama, with over 2.5 million individual contributions received.
The Sanders fundraising juggernaut has some in the Clinton camp worried as the two candidates move into 2016 and begin ramping up their ground operations in states outside Iowa and New Hampshire. Many of Clinton’s donors have already contributed the maximum amount allowed by law to her campaign, fueling concerns than Sanders, who can return to almost all of his donors in the future thanks to their small-dollar status, will have a leg up as the primary battle draws on and competition between the two intensifies.