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Sanders fires up U students for Clinton — in a way Clinton can’t

The Vermont senator was at Northrop Tuesday hoping to rally young voters who ought to be all in for a political groundbreaker.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders speaking to a crowd of 1,600 at Northrop Auditorium on Tuesday.
MinnPost photo by Brian Halliday

Hillary Clinton shouldn’t need to do this, the pundits say. The first woman nominee for president shouldn’t need to dispatch her former rival for the nomination, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, to rally young voters who ought to be all in for a political groundbreaker.

But Clinton is incapable of scorching the earth with the rhetoric that Sanders summoned up at a rally on her behalf at the University of Minnesota, where he reiterated a progressive agenda that can seem inspirational for a young voter wanting to change the world.

At the U of M’s Northrop Auditorium, he brought the crowd of 1,600 to its feet a dozen times with incantations against “the grotesque level of income inequality,” “climate change deniers,” and “a broken criminal justice system.”

The current federal minimum wage “is a starvation wage,” and “it is insane” for young people to graduate with college debt, he said.

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The crowd applauded appreciatively when Sanders reminded them that Hillary Clinton was “only one candidate running for president” that had the solutions to these crises. But they clapped harder and hooted louder when Sanders invoked the name of Donald Trump, “the worst candidate for president in the modern history of the United States.”  

It was an assembly that was, for the most part, fiercely anti-Trump, willingly pro-Clinton, and passionately pro-Sanders, including a few Sanders supporters that will not budge.

“I just can’t vote for her,” said student Matt Pappas from Coon Rapids. “My hang up is the Iraq war. She has a pattern of foreign policy that I don’t agree with. I don’t really think she’s taken the steps to move toward Bernie Sander’s foreign policy. I won’t be voting for Donald Trump. I won’t be voting for Hillary Clinton.”

Student Zoe Rutherford of Rochester understands the sentiment. “So many people are trying to pull away from the mainstream candidates,” she said, which is why she, as a Clinton supporter, deemed Sanders’ support important. “I’m really happy that he finally decided to support Hillary Clinton. It’s kind of a lot coming from him.”

With polls showing a close race between Clinton and Trump in Minnesota, the Clinton campaign is taking no chances with this and other blocs of voters she has yet to fire up. Another piece of kindling goes on the flames Thursday as Chelsea Clinton campaigns on her mother’s behalf in Minneapolis and St. Paul.