Bernie Sanders drew a record-breaking 28,000 people to a rally in Portland, Oregon Sunday, according to his presidential campaign. That makes it by far the largest turnout for any 2016 presidential candidate thus far, breaking a previous record set by Sanders just one day earlier in Seattle.
Sanders fans filled the 19,000-person capacity Moda Center sports arena, where the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers play, and another estimated 9,000 gathered outside unable to enter after the area reached capacity, venue officials said.
“Whoa. This is an unbelievable turnout,” Sanders said as he took the stage. The independent senator has been drawing enormous crowds as he takes his presidential campaign to liberal enclaves like Denver, Madison, Wisconsin, and Portland.
On Saturday, an estimated 15,000 turned out to hear Sanders speak in Seattle. That crowd broke 2016’s previous record, also set by Sanders, of 12,000 in Phoenix in late July.
But the Portland audience Sunday blew all the others away. “You’ve done it better than anyone else,” Sanders told the audience, reiterating his call for a “political revolution.”
The Portland rally had originally been scheduled for the 12,000-capacity Veterans Memorial Coliseum, but was moved after the campaign received more RSVPs. But even the larger venue was not nearly big enough, as thousands were unable to get in.
The giant crowd also came a day after activists with the Black Lives Matter movement shut down a separate event in Seattle where Sanders was speaking. The activists charged that Sanders has not done enough on criminal justice reform and other issues important to the movement, which formed after the death of Ferguson, Missouri teenager Michael Brown one year ago Sunday.
Sanders has been working to heed their call, and hired as his new national press secretary an organizer with the movement, as BuzzFeed first reported.
And in Portland, Sanders incorporated criminal just reform into his message. “There is no candidate who will fight harder to end institutional racism in this country and to reform our broken criminal justice system,” he said.