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Bernie Sanders Campaigns in Austin Ahead of Super Tuesday

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT News
Democratic Sen. from Vermont and Presidential primary candidate Bernie Sanders made an impromptu appearance at CotA in Austin Saturday morning.

Thousands attended a somewhat-impromptu campaign stop at Circuit of the Americas in Austin Saturday to see Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The Sanders campaign announced Thursday afternoon that they were holding a rally in Texas this weekend. They'd also make a campaign stop in Dallas Saturday afternoon. For many in the crowd, seeing Sanders in Austin was a big surprise.

Credit Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT News
Hillary Clinton is polling better than Sanders in Texas, but he told the crowd Saturday that he was optimistic.

"I didn’t know until last night. My husband was like, 'do you want get up in the morning and go?' and I was like, 'of course. Are you kidding me?'" Kaylie Walters from Austin said. "We had no idea [Sanders] was coming to Austin."

Sanders hinted at one of the big reasons he's stopping in Texas this weekend. On Tuesday, Texas and 11 other states will vote in this year's presidential primaries. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has had a lead in the polls in Texas, but Sanders told the crowd he's hopeful his campaign's momentum can lead to big wins on Election Day.

"On Super Tuesday, the state that will be voting for the most delegates is the great state of Texas, and if all of you come out to vote and you bring your friends, neighbors and co-workers, we are going to win here in Texas,” Sanders told the crowd.

There were various people in the large crowd who already cast a vote for Sanders during the primary. TrevorShoppach and Kevin Anderson, who attended the rally separately, said they both live in Austin and voted on Friday—the last day of early voting in Texas—for Sanders.

They said they had long made up their minds about Sanders and were attending the rally “to show their support.”

Credit Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT News
Sanders' supporters gathered for his appearance at CotA Saturday morning.

Sanders during his stop talked about student loan debt, the minimum wage, income inequality and criminal justice reform, among a mostly younger crowd.

While in Texas, Sanders also spoke directly about needs in minority communities, specifically Latinos. Sanders said he's hearing a lot of people stress the importance of comprehensive immigration reform. He also slammed anti-Latino rhetoric from Republican candidate Donald Trump. 

“And while there are some people who disagree on how we go forward with immigration reform, I would hope that every American would stand up against the xenophobia and against the racism that we are hearing," Sanders said.

"It is not acceptable to refer to Mexicans who come in to this country as criminals, as rapists, as drug dealers. As a nation we have come too far in fighting racism and bigotry. We will not allow that language to stand."

Ashley Lopez covers politics and health care. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @AshLopezRadio.
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