Bernie Sanders rallies at Baldwin Wallace

U.S. Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders greets supporters before his speech at Baldwin Wallace University on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016.

Karl Schneider

Bernie Sanders, the junior senator from Vermont and Democratic presidential hopeful, made his second Ohio stop in this year’s election cycle at Baldwin Wallace University on Thursday morning, just weeks before Ohio’s March 15 primary.

Sanders trails behind former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Ohio 55-40 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released February 23. Both men (54-44 percent) and women (56-37 percent) favor Clinton in the state, according to the same poll.

Werner Linge, a former Kent State sociology professor, attended the rally at Baldwin Wallace.

“I’m going to try and make history (by) electing the first socialist president,” Linge said. “We don’t need any more dynasties like the Clintons or disasters like Trump.”

Linge likened Sanders to a “man that incarnates FDR or Lincoln.”

Two nurses representing National Nurses United were also waiting to watch Sanders’ speech at the university.

“We are fighting for our first contract,” Debbie McKinney said. “We see what we do for the community (as nurses) and that’s why we’re here—Sanders’ single-payer plan.”

McKinney and her husband, Bob, who is also a nurse, work in Massillon at Affinity Medical Center.

“The affordable college is also important to us as nurses,” McKinney said. “ We’ve been practicing for a while and still have student debt.”

Former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner once again opened the floor for Sanders. Turner introduced Sanders at his last visit in Ohio in December 2015 at Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center.

“Senator Sanders has been a consistent champion for civil rights and social justice,” Turner said. “And for the college students in this room, he stood up in Chicago to fight segregation.”

Turner called Sanders a one-issue candidate, “and that issue is the American people.”

Turner then asked the audience to text in and donate $10 to Sanders’ presidential campaign.

Sanders walked onto the stage to cheers and “Bernie” chants. During his speech, Sanders told the crowd about his children and grandchildren and said, “I want you to worry about my grandchildren, and I will worry about yours.”

“We should not be punishing people. We should be rewarding people who want an education,” Sanders said during the rally. “This is not a radical concept; this is what other countries are already doing.”

Sanders moved swiftly between talking points during the rally, quickly touching on education, incarceration reform and pay equity.

“When they talk about listening to people, this campaign is listening to women, and women are asking us, ‘Why is it that we make 79 cents on the dollar compared to men?’ and, ‘If we are African-American women, the discrepancy is even wider.’ This is why I know every man in this room will stand with women for pay equity.”

Sanders once again touched on the wealth disparity he said he sees in the country.

“I think the reason that our campaign is doing well is that we are touching a nerve in America, and people are responding strongly,” he said. “Very few people think that it’s right that the twentieth wealthiest people own more wealth than the bottom 150 million.”

Sanders set himself apart from Hillary Clinton by what he said was Clinton’s wrong decision in supporting free-trade agreements in the past. He also talked about his plans for tuition-free public college.

“Anybody should be able to go to a public college tuition free,” he said. “We have to deal with this crisis of student debt. I will have legislation by allowing those with debt to refinance their student loans to get the lowest possible rates that they can.”

Sanders ended his speech by calling for a revitalization of the American democracy.

“Nothing that I talked to you about this morning is radical,” Sanders said. “The issue is do we have the courage to tell the billionaire class that this country belongs to all of us, not just a few. And if we have that courage, we’re going to win here on March 15, and together we’re going to transform America.”

Contact Karl Schneider at [email protected]