Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders held three campaign events in West Virginia on Thursday, May 5. At his final stop in Morgantown, Sanders’ focus on student loan debt was well-received by the many college students in the crowd.
As the crowd of several thousand people made its way into the Morgantown Event Center Thursday night, it was striking how wide a cross-section of society was represented – young and old, black and white, dreadlocked and clean cut.
One man was holding a “Republicans for Bernie” sign.
Megan Collins’s glitter-filled sign read “Bernie in, BS out.”
She says Sanders’ message resonates with her on a very personal level.
“For me, Bernie’s not a politician, he is a person. And to me, that’s what could best represent America,” She said. “We don’t need someone who’s feeding us what we need to hear. We need someone who has their opinion, feels that they’re representing the people and wants to listen to the people.”
Collins was with a group of social work students who stood behind Sanders during his speech.
They, like many of the young people in the crowd, responded enthusiastically when Sanders talked about taxing Wall Street to make college tuition free in the U.S.
“It seems to me now, in 2016, that it is absolutely appropriate that we impose a tax on Wall Street speculation,” Sanders said. “And that tax would more than pay for making public colleges and universities tuition-free and substantially lowering student debt.”
Sanders also touched on many of his other campaign-trail standbys. He talked about closing America’s income gap, the urgent need to deal with climate change and getting help for those who have lost jobs during coal’s decline.
He also discussed America’s opioid epidemic and his belief that addiction should be treated as a mental-health issue, not a criminal one.