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.
"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. Trevor Shoppach 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.”
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."