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Clinton, Sanders Make Final Pushes In Mass. Before High-Stakes Primary06:11
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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton campaigns at The Old South Meeting House in Boston on Monday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton campaigns at The Old South Meeting House in Boston on Monday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
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It's primary day in Massachusetts, which has one of the biggest stashes of delegates up for grabs among the 13 states holding presidential primaries and caucuses across the country on Tuesday.

There's a lot at stake in the Bay State for the two Democrats, which is why Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were both here on Monday, making their final pitches ahead of Super Tuesday.

Sanders Stumps With Extra Energy, Urgency In Mass.

More than 3,500 people packed the Milton High School gym on Monday night, raising the temperature and making it shake for Bernie Sanders. The Vermont senator brought his unruly white hair and message of political revolution that he hopes will make him a winner.

"Tomorrow, in 11 states, including Massachusetts, over 800 delegates are going to be elected to the Democratic convention, and we anticipate winning many of them and a majority of them right here in Massachusetts," said Sanders.

Bernie Sanders greets supporters during a campaign rally at Milton High School Monday evening. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
Bernie Sanders greets supporters during a campaign rally at Milton High School Monday evening. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Sanders told the crowd, "Massachusetts led the American Revolution. Now it's time for your state to lead a political revolution." He spoke with extra energy and urgency, at one point delighting the crowd when he whipped off his jacket in the over-heating gym.

"Alright, we're getting warmed up here," he said.

Sanders delivered his standard stump speech, railing against a corrupt campaign finance system, a broken criminal justice system, widening economic disparity and what he calls a rigged economy.

"Ready for a radical idea? Well here it is. We're going to create an economy that works for everybody and not just the one percent," he said.

To help do that, Sanders proposes a massive jobs program, government-funded health care, tuition-free public colleges and a $15 minimum wage. And as the candidate without a superPAC, who's depended on small donors, Sanders sharpened a key difference with his Democratic opponent, Clinton.

"Now, I am not quite sure how you bring about real change in America if your superPAC collects millions and millions of dollars from Wall Street," Sanders said. "And from drug companies and from the fossil fuel industry."

The most recent polls, including the latest from WBUR, have shown Sanders running behind Clinton in Massachusetts. But he does better than her with young voters, who made up much of Monday night's raucous crowd in Milton. So if he's to prevail Tuesday, he needs young voters like these to come out in big numbers. Voters like Brian Tal-Baker.

"I think he's running on a platform of hope and change and interest, rather than on fear and incremental change because we don't really think we can get anything done," he said. "And I think that he's interested in sort of getting us back to the basic principles of how a government needs to function."

Clinton Rallies In Boston, Reflects On Personal Connection To City

"And it's my honor to introduce to you the woman who is not only going to win Massachusetts tomorrow, but be the next president of the United States America."

That's the way Boston Mayor Marty Walsh introduced Hillary Clinton earlier in the day. She rallied supporters in Boston's historic Old South Meeting House, where, like Sanders, Clinton made reference to America's revolutionary past: She noted this was where "the real Tea Party" was born. And she talked about her personal connection to Boston.

Clinton supporters cheer as she gives her speech at the Old South Meeting House in Boston. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Clinton supporters cheer as she gives her speech at the Old South Meeting House in Boston. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

"When I came to college here, Wellesley College back in the day, I fell in love with Wellesley and I fell in love with Boston," she said.

Despite the close race here in Massachusetts among the Democrats, Clinton barely mentioned Sanders. Instead, she focused her sharpest attacks on the Republicans.

"You know, if I were grading some of those Republicans, you remember the little box that used to be on your kids' report cards, 'play well with others'? I'd have to put a big 'no.' Democracy requires that we play well with others, that's what it's all about," she said.

Clinton's latest campaign theme is "knocking down barriers" — to opportunity, equality and the American Dream, as opposed to building up walls of division. She wants to create jobs by repairing the country's infrastructure. She promises to reduce student debt; defend and improve the Affordable Care Act, oppose the gun lobby; and work with Republicans when possible — and when it's not, to stand up to them.

"But I'll say this for the Republicans, they are persistent, because they're back with the same economic policy, persistently wrong, but they don't quit," she said. "So it's going to be up to us to point out to the American people what the differences are and what the stakes are for every single working American."

The Old South Meeting House was packed. Many people were turned away, and after the event, Clinton went out in the street to address them.

Inside, Linda Merryweather, of Boston, said she's voting for Clinton because of her experience.

"She is the candidate of choice, not just because she's a woman — but that's a great plus," she said. "She's the most qualified, especially for world politics. She can walk to any country in this world and be welcomed, and we don't have anyone like that, and I think she is the person who is the answer for this country."

That Clinton and Sanders were in Massachusetts on Monday is a measure of what's at stake. For Clinton, winning here is a chance to build momentum, following her decisive win in South Carolina on Saturday. She's also expected to do well across the South on Super Tuesday.

For Sanders, a win in Massachusetts is probably crucial. This is one of the country's most liberal states, and if the Vermont senator can't win here, it wouldn't bode well for the future of his campaign.

This segment aired on March 1, 2016.

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Anthony Brooks Twitter Senior Political Reporter
Anthony Brooks is WBUR's senior political reporter.

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