Bernie Sanders returned to South Carolina for a Saturday night speech at Winthrop University in Rock Hill after speaking at the historically black Benedict College in Columbia and a rally in Florence.
It was Sanders’ second trip to the state since he announced his campaign four months ago.
Some 3,000 people packed the Byrnes Auditorium on the tree-lined campus of the public liberal arts university.
The crowd rivaled the turnout last month at a rally in North Charleston. Both turnouts were bigger by far than any other candidate in either major party has drawn in the Palmetto State so far this election campaign.
The enthusiastic audience, made up mostly of young people, cheered Sanders’ calls for tuition-free public colleges and universities, pay equity for women and paid family and medical leave for workers. He was applauded when he railed against corporate greed and the billionaire class and when he detailed proposals to create millions of jobs and raise the minimum wage to rebuild the collapsing American middle class.
At the appearance earlier in the day at Columbia, Sanders called for investing resources in colleges instead of correctional institutions. “We should not have more people in jail than any other country. We should have the best educated population in the world,” Sanders said. “It makes a lot more sense to invest in jobs and education rather than jails and incarceration.”
Author, academic and activist Cornel West warmed up the crowd at each of the three stops in South Carolina, which will play a major role in presidential politics next February when it holds the second primary in the nation. Calling Sanders “a brother of honor, of decency of integrity,” West declared that with the help of the grassroots movement showing growing support for Sanders “we’re going to turn this country around.”
“Cornel is a leading voice in the African American community,” Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver told The Washington Post. “He’s a forceful voice for understanding the intersection of racial justice and economic justice. He understands very well Bernie’s message. He provides validation to many people that the agenda Bernie is putting forward is an agenda that would benefit people in the African American community and beyond.”
Ahead in recent polls in New Hampshire and Iowa, the South Carolina swing came as Sanders has showed momentum in national polls, including a Reuters survey released on Friday.
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