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More than 21,000 people streamed into the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, with thousands more outside the hall in South Boston Saturday night, to hear Bernie Sanders speak.
The candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination highlighted plans to bring workers 12 weeks paid family and medical leave — particularly for those families that just had a baby.
"And when we talk about family values, we are talking about ending the international embarrassment of the United States of America being the only major country on earth that does not provide paid family and medical leave," Sanders said, jabbing at Republicans for stressing what he says are the wrong family values.
Sanders also spoke passionately about wanting to more than double the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15.
This was arguably not your typical political event at the Convention Center. For one thing, valet parking was pretty quiet. Thousands of people — most, but not all young, most, but not all white — walked along Summer Street after having taken the train or the T to get to the rally.
Liam Geary, a music producer from Pembroke, was one of many young adults who came by train to hear Sanders. The 21-year-old said he feels the American economic system is broken.
"I think that the youth is really set up to fail, where if you decide to go to school you're going to be left with a crushing, staggering amount of debt, and there's not a lot of jobs for kids that are just freshly graduated, and the only jobs are unpaid internships, which isn't practical when it comes to paying back your student loans, which is why I dropped out of college," Geary said.
Geary, an independent voter, said he fully supports Sanders. The 74-year-old U.S. senator from Vermont is officially an independent, but caucuses with the Democrats.
In his address, Sanders promised to push for free tuition at all public universities and for people to be able to refinance their student loans.
"What we are doing is pulling the rug out from under these young people, and we are harming the future of America, because we need to capitalize on the best intellects that we can, regardless of the income of their families," Sanders said.
The Sanders rally was free and open to the public. The campaign estimated 21,000 people in the hall — which was filled to capacity — and another 4,000 in overflow, most of whom watched Sanders speak on large screens set up on The Lawn on D around the corner.
Among those in the crowd: Jessica Van Sweringen, a recent Harvard graduate and researcher at Boston Children's Hospital, who lives in Brookline.
The 23-year-old said she's considering Sanders and Hillary Clinton — and maybe even a Republican candidate. She has not yet registered to vote.
"I would still like to hear more about what Bernie Sanders thinks about foreign policy," Van Sweringen said. "I think he touched on that, but he didn't go as in-depth as I would have liked him to."
Van Sweringen came with Julia Bruce, a 22-year-old registered Democrat, who also just graduated from Harvard. The Weston resident said she's "primarily" for Sanders.
"You know, he's talking about really relevant issues, about racial justice, inequality, global warming," Bruce said. "He really just hit so many topics over the course of an hour that it was really amazing."
After delivering his speech, Sanders also came outside to briefly address those who braved the chilly temperatures on The Lawn on D.
#BernieSanders: "you guys are the true believers, huh? Thank you for freezing out here." #bernieinboston pic.twitter.com/uEOVgQKDFV
— Peter Balonon-Rosen (@pbalonon_rosen) October 4, 2015
Most campaign speeches are fairly short. Sanders spoke for about an hour and a half. Wearing a blue blazer and an open-collar button-down blue shirt, he did something else unusual for a political rally: he started on time.
Sanders told the crowd he's counting on increasing voter turnout. He predicts that if his campaign does that he stands good odds of securing the nomination.
Clarification: The story's headline has been updated to more accurately reflect that the rally drew tens of thousands of people. While the story gave the full estimate of those who attended, the headline, in saying "thousands" attended, was unclear.
Correction: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this post misidentified where Jessica Van Sweringen was during the rally; she was in inside, not outside. We regret the error.
This segment aired on October 4, 2015.
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