The Bernie Train Stopped in Denver for Polis, Other Democratic Candidates

Bernie Sanders stepped on a stage at Zeppelin Station to raucous applause and chants of "Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!" The Vermont senator smiled and waved to the crowd, which seemed ready to vote Sanders into the White House that minute. The only problem was that it was October 24, 2018, not October 24, 2020.

Instead of campaigning for himself, Sanders trekked across Colorado all day Wednesday, stopping in Boulder, Fort Collins and Denver to drum up support for local Democrats running for office. At his last stop, Sanders told the packed house at Zeppelin Station that his crowds at universities in Boulder and Fort Collins had been about 3,000 and 2,000 strong, respectively, nodding unintentionally to another guy who likes to talk about crowd size.

"We've had a wonderful day here in Colorado," he said.

He then went on to give a characteristically candid Bernie speech that laid out his progressive views on various issues.

Early on in his speech, Sanders provided humor, likely without realizing it.

"I think the most important political issue facing this country is the need to end billionaires buying elections," he said. 9News anchor Kyle Clark had a bit of fun with that statement, pointing out that Sanders was campaigning for Jared Polis, who happens to have a bit of cash in his bank account and has spent plenty on his own gubernatorial run.
Sanders also criticized the fossil fuel industry in Colorado for "defeating initiatives that benefit working families and the middle class." The comment hit home with the crowd, especially for those who were handing out pro-Proposition 112 pamphlets at the event. But even that comment was a bit awkward given that Sanders was campaigning for Polis, who opposes 112, a ballot initiative that would require 2,500-foot setbacks for new oil and gas developments near schools, water sources, homes and other areas.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton's social media team was on the defense, calling Sanders and Polis socialists:

Set to ominous music that may as well have come straight from the Inception soundtrack, Stapleton's latest Twitter video cuts up Sanders soundbites so that the senator says taboo words like "radical," "extremist," and "fringe" without giving him a chance to finish his thoughts. The video closes with a black screen that reads "STOP SOCIALISM IN COLORADO THIS NOVEMBER." It is safe to say that this cringeworthy video is, in fact, not satire.

Sanders concluded his speech with a serious call to action for progressive voters in Colorado.

"We can win a sweeping victory across this country. But we don't do it by just dreaming of a blue wave. We've got to make that wave happen. And the way we make that wave happen is by working as hard as we can over the next two weeks," he said.

As Sanders waved goodbye, some in the crowd started the "Bernie!" chants again. But they were soon drowned out by another chant: "Run, Bernie, Run!"
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Conor McCormick-Cavanagh is a staff writer at Westword, where he covers a range of beats, including local politics, immigration and homelessness. He previously worked as a journalist in Tunisia and loves to talk New York sports.