By Leslie Muir /// Opinions Editor
BERNIE SANDERS swept through the Pacific Northwest during the week of spring break, causing social media frenzies, traffic jams and what can only be described as political ecstasy amongst the thousands of supporters who turned out to see him speak. Sanders kicked off his tour of the Northwest on March 20 with a rally in Vancouver, Washington.
Lewis & Clark student Roxanne Felig ’17 was in attendance at the Vancouver rally.
“I got in line at 6:30 a.m. and there were already hundreds of people in front of me, some of whom had camped out the night before,” Felig said. According to local media sources, over 7,000 people attended the rally at Hudson Bay High School despite rainy weather and cold temperatures. For Felig and other supporters, the wait was worth it.
“I’ve been following his campaign for a while now and am a hardcore fan of his policies, so finally seeing him in person was really intense,” Felig said.
Northwest Portland resident River Lassotovitch was also in attendance at the Vancouver rally and suggested that the crowds were overwhelming.
“A bunch of us couldn’t get inside because of the line, but he came outside and spoke to us before leading the rally,” Lassotovitch said. Sanders’ impromptu outside stump speech brought the hundreds of supporters outside to gather in a tight circle to hear the presidential candidate speak up-close.
That same day, Sanders spoke in Spokane and Seattle in order to gather support before the March 26 democratic caucuses in Washington. The Clinton family was close behind him, passing through Washington state that same week. Clinton brought along her family to campaign with her, including husband and former President Bill Clinton, who stopped in Portland at Powell’s Books during his trip. Heavy campaigning could not clinch her the vote however, and Washington state went to Sanders with 73 percent of the vote.
For Portland residents, the Sanders tour of the Northwest came to a head on Friday, March 25 when he held a rally at the Moda Center. According to the Sanders Campaign, 11,500 people were in attendance, down from the 20,000 people who packed the same venue the last time he spoke in Portland in August 2015.
This particular rally made national headlines for the appearance of a small bird on his podium during the middle of his speech. Sanders immediately made reference to the bird as a symbol for the dove, representing peace, and allowed the crowd to cheer until it flew away moments later. This feathered visitor made the social media rounds due to the iconic skit from the hit television show Portlandia featuring the catchphrase “put a bird on it.” The hashtag #BirdieSanders trended on Twitter following the event.
For LC Bernie Sanders Club member Zane Dundon ’18, being out of town over spring break meant missing the appearance of a favorite figure.
“He’s a very inspiring figure, and he clearly cares about what he’s saying,” Dundon said, further lamenting missing the opportunity to hear Sanders speak in person for the first time. Having both local rallies happen during spring break meant that many traveling LC students were not able to see Sanders speak. However, other opportunities to see Sanders in person may present themselves over the following month as the May 17 Oregon Democratic primary draws closer. One online poll has Sanders winning the Oregon primary with roughly 70 percent of the vote, while OBP News reports that 79 percent of Oregonians, possibly including birds, see Sanders in a favorable light.