Sanders, Omar hold rally at Williams Arena

Thousands gathered at the University of Minnesota on Sunday to show support for the presidential hopeful.

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., face the crowd together during a rally held at Williams Arena on Sunday, Nov. 3. 

Jasmin Kemp

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., face the crowd together during a rally held at Williams Arena on Sunday, Nov. 3. 

Hana Ikramuddin and Jasmine Snow

Bernie Sanders left attendees at Sunday’s rally at the University of Minnesota with a central message: “we will not be divided.”

Along with Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Sanders covered topics including impeachment, immigration, healthcare and education in front of a crowd of thousands.

“Ilhan and I share a common link as descendants of families who fled violence and came to this country as immigrants. That’s not just my story or Ilhan’s story, that is the story of America,” Sanders said at the rally.

In the 2020 presidential race, Sanders is currently polling in third, trailing Elizabeth Warren and front-runner Joe Biden.

“Bernie knows what Minnesotans know, that at the root of every injustice is the imbalance of power,” Omar said. Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., has also publicly endorsed Sanders.

The event was moved to Williams Arena, a bigger venue than the original Northrop Auditorium, which holds 2,700 people, due to a high expected turnout. 

This is not the first time Sanders has spoken at the University; he visited the campus in 2016 to support Hillary Clinton’s campaign. 

Other 2020 hopefuls have already visited the Twin Cities to promote their candidacies, but Sanders is the first to make a stop on campus. President Donald Trump held a campaign rally at the Target Center in October, looking to flip the consistently Democratic state in the upcoming election. Warren visited in August, speaking at Macalester College. Like Sanders, Warren also had to change venues due to a large interest in the event.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison was one of several speakers who introduced Omar and Sanders to the stage. 

For many in attendance on Sunday, Sanders’ policies and goals put him ahead of other democratic candidates.

“I support him because he’s the farthest left candidate in the primary right now and the big thing that’s important to me … is his stance on foreign policy,” said Alex Provan, a second-year Ph.D. political science student. “He’s one of the only candidates who seems to be in favor of reducing or removing sanctions from places like Venezuela, Iran, Nicaragua and returning to the use of diplomacy instead of brute force in our international relations.”

Blythe Pennock, a 2017 University graduate in attendance, said she thinks Sanders has a high chance of winning Minnesota.

“Bernie represents, to me, I think a vital change within the Democratic Party that’s needed, as in like actual class consciousness being raised,” Pennock said. “He’s not bought by corporations, which is what a lot of our politicians are, even within the Democratic Party. So I support both Bernie and the movement he’s inspiring throughout the country.”

Supporters repeatedly brought up Sanders’ proposed policies such as the Green New Deal, canceling student debt and Medicare for All.

“We’re here to support his platform of being concerned about income and equality, the Green New Deal, Medicare for All and kind of rooting out corruption in Washington,” said Carol Bolin-Abrahamson, an attendee from Minneapolis.  

A group of about 25 people protested the rally near the arena. 

Marthamae Kottschade, from Rochester, comes from a family of veterans and came to the rally to voice her support for Trump and the military. 

“I am here on behalf of what President Trump has done for our military and our veterans. It’s very near and dear to my heart … in the past we’ve had presidents who haven’t supported our military or our law enforcement,” she said.

Sanders outlined several of his other presidential goals, including overhauling the country’s immigration laws, implementing gun control policies, reforming the criminal justice system and providing access to abortions. 

“I want you to think back on American history, real change has never taken place from the top on down,” said Sanders. 

Correction: this article has been updated to reflect Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s title.