Sanders appeals to Nebraska voters ahead of caucuses

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders addresses an overflow crowd at the Lied Center for Performing Arts in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Grant Gerlock, NET News)
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March 3, 2016 - 5:27pm

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders held a rally in Lincoln Thursday, asking for support in the upcoming Nebraska caucuses. It will be the second time Nebraska democrats have held presidential caucuses.

A full crowd at the Lied Center on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus cheered for Senator Bernie Sanders as he repeated proposals like campaign finance reform, a $15 minimum wage, and expanding public education beyond high school.

“That was great years ago,” Sanders said. “But in 2016 we have got to expand that concept so that public education in America means free tuition at public colleges and universities.”

He also appealed to Nebraska voters on issues of climate change and energy. He was introduced at the rally by Jane Kleeb, the political activist who led Nebraska opposition to the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Sanders said he was against TransCanada’s pipeline proposal from the beginning, but Hillary Clinton was late to reach the same position.

Te Gatobu, a student at Southeast Community College, will caucus for Bernie Sanders in his first presidential vote. (Photo by Grant Gerlock, NET News)

Emily Johnson and Slate Mathes, both high school students in Lincoln will vote for the first time in the 2016 presidential election. While Johnson plans to caucus for Bernie Sanders, Mathes is a Hillary Clinton supporter. (Photo by Grant Gerlock, NET News)

“If you believe in climate change, why in God’s earth would you think about supporting the excavation and transportation of some of the dirtiest fossil fuel in the world?” Sanders said.

Sanders trails Hillary Clinton for the democratic nomination by more than 600 delegates nationwide, so he could use Nebraska’s 25 delegates to be decided Saturday. Including super-delegates, who can change candidate affiliation, the state will send a total of 30 delegates to the Democratic Convention.

Young voters made up a significant part of the crowd at the rally, including first-time voters. Southeast Community College student, Te Gatobu, plans to caucus for Sanders even though critics - including his parents - call Sanders’ policies unrealistically expensive.

“I just see a man who’s been in office over 20 years,” Gatobu said, waiting in line before the rally began. “If there’s one person who can make a change, I feel like this is the guy with the credentials.”

Slate Mathes, who attends Southeast High School in Lincoln, will also caucus for the first time, but he’s siding with Hillary Clinton. Mathes said he thinks Sanders’ proposals are too far left to hold up in a general election.

“When the republican attack machine focuses on him, I think it’s going to be a hard race for him to win,” Mathes said.

Hillary Clinton has not campaigned in person in Nebraska since December, but her daughter Chelsea has held a few events, and former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to appear in Omaha and Lincoln on Friday.



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