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Berning for Clinton: Sanders draws millenials to Lansing campaign rally

Senator Bernie Sanders takes the stage on Oct. 5, 2016 on Adams Field. Sanders gave a speech in support of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

United States Sen. Bernie Sanders told an enthusiastic crowd at Michigan State University that Hillary Clinton will work to make education more affordable, fight climate change and improve the “real issues affecting our country.”

Sanders spoke at a campaign rally in support of Democratic nominee Clinton’s presidential campaign at Arena Field on MSU's campus. 

This is the first time Sanders has visited Michigan since running in the Democratic primary against Clinton.

“(This campaign) is not a personality contest. We are voting for President of the United States — the most powerful elected position in the world,” Sanders said. “It is incumbent upon us to take a hard look at the issues, the issues that impact our lives.”

Speaking to a crowd of mostly students under a gray sky that threatened rain, Sanders said Clinton will work to make Americans the best educated workforce in the world, and support free college education for everyone.

“It is absolutely absurd that hundreds of thousands of bright young people, who have the qualifications and the desire, cannot go to college for one reason — their families lack the money,” Sanders said. “She and I also believe that it is crazy that millions of people have left college deeply in debt and they are paying off that debt for decades.”

MSU sophomore Jack Kellett supported Sanders in his primary campaign against Clinton and now supports the former Secretary of State and First Lady. His biggest concerns for the future are race relations and income inequality. 

He said the Vermont senator brings a needed authenticity to Clinton’s campaign.

“I think he’s honest, authentic and real,” Kellett said. “The biggest perceptions about Hillary are that she’s not honest. I think Bernie helps her with that.”

Coltrane Lewis, an MSU sophomore from Jackson, said that he came out to hear what Sanders had to say about the election. He is not an enthusiastic supporter of Clinton.

“I don’t like either candidate now,” Lewis said. “But I think Bernie might be able to convince me to vote for her.”

To pay for Clinton’s reforms, Sanders said that the country has to start making billionaires pay their fair share of taxes. He also expressed concern about the impact money has on democracy.

“Democracy is about ‘one person, one vote.' Democracy is not about billionaires buying elections,” Sanders said. “That is not democracy, it is an oligarchy.”

Clinton, if elected, will support a constitutional amendment that will overturn Citizens United. That is a Supreme Court decision that lifted the cap on campaign donations, Sanders said.

He said Clinton will also work to change the minimum wage into a living wage.

“Secretary Clinton understands the middle class today is hurting,” Sanders said. “That is why she believes, and I believe, that we’ve got to raise the minimum wage in this country from minimum wage to a living wage.”

MSU freshman Hanna Foreman attended the rally to see Sanders and get excited for the election. She said while she supported Sanders, she doesn’t know how feasible his plans are. Clinton’s plans are more realistic — but Foreman has reservations about the Democratic candidate.

“Convincing me to vote for her has been a challenge. I still don’t completely trust her based on what she’s done as Secretary of State, a Senator or First Lady,” Foreman said. “We do need a candidate that can perform foreign policy, education and economic reform.”

Sanders painted a stark contrast between Clinton and Trump to the crowd.

“The scientific community is nearly unanimous that climate change is real,” Sanders said. “Donald Trump believes climate change is a hoax. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we have a more moral responsibility to ensure that the planet we leave to them is healthy and inhabitable.”

Despite their different opinions on economic reform, civil rights and more, Sanders said he is most concerned about the way Trump has run his campaign.

“What I am very fearful about is that for the first time in the modern history of this country, we have a candidate that is running for president on a policy of bigotry,” Sanders said.

He added a president has to treat people with respect and pointed out Trump's verbal attack on Latino and Muslim-Americans.

“We should be proud as a nation of our diversity," he said. "That’s how we are strong.”

America has succeeded in fighting sexism, homophobia and racism, added Sanders.

“But today we have one huge struggle remaining — the economic struggle," Sanders said. "We should not be living in a nation that has more wealth and more income inequality than any other nation on earth.”

Sanders finished the rally by asking the crowd to work together and to stay involved beyond Nov. 8.

“Our job in the next five weeks is to elect Hillary Clinton as our President,” Sanders said. “But our struggle doesn’t stop on election day. Our job isn’t just to elect Hillary Clinton — it’s to transform America.”

East Lansing was just one campaign stop Sanders made Oct. 6 in Michigan, he also visited Dearborn, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids.