Feel the Bern

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders stopped in Austin as part of a swing through Texas prior to Super Tuesday’s primary elections here. A rally was announced for Sunday evening at Auditorium Shores.

Bill and I arrived about a half-hour before the scheduled start time of 5 PM. A large American flag was displayed near Lady Bird Lake, and a Texas flag of similar size was hung behind the stage. Several local bands warmed up the crowd, prompting jokes that Bernie had resurrected Fun Fun Fun Fest. The bleachers behind the stage were already filled with supporters holding “Bernie” signs.

Local candidates took advantage of this gathering of liberals to campaign for their own races. We also saw a few conservative protestors, including a film crew for Infowars. The line to go through security into the fenced-in area stretched along Riverside Drive back to Lamar (that’s probably a half-mile), but it was moving along at a steady pace. We decided to stay outside the fences since we had other plans that evening and didn’t want to get stuck in the middle of the crowd.

Lots of people (including those with good balance) were standing outside the fences or sitting on the hillside in front of the Long Center. However, the loud-speakers faced into the fenced-in area, so we could barely hear on the outskirts. We changed our minds and decided to go through the security checkpoint.

The sound and the view were much better inside the fences, but we had missed the first few speakers. Later that evening we learned that this was former presidential candidate Marianne Williamson and that she had just endorsed Bernie.

Bernie took the stage at 5:18 PM. He gave what is probably his “stump speech” and sounded just like you would expect him: direct, earnest and a bit cranky. The crowd was respectful and energetic with lots of sign-waving. Bernie ended precisely at 6 PM. The crowd was estimated at over 12,000.

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