Lined up for hours, Los Angeles residents, 15,000 to 20,000 strong, filled the park across the street from City Hall and then filled an additional park across Broadway going up the hill towards the Los Angeles County Central Courthouse. The audience was not disappointed as Bernie elicited cheer after cheer from the attendees. Prior to his speaking, a microphone check was done to make sure that the program could be heard all the way up the hill. Anyone watching the crowd would have no doubt that Bernie Sanders is in fact the clear frontrunner for 2020. Beto might as well pack up his campaign. Unless Beto buys the Democratic nomination, the response of the public to Sanders makes it clear that no corporate candidate has a chance in a legitimate election.
Bruised, with a black-eye and Band-Aid from a recent shower accident, Bernie appeared confident of winning the Democratic nomination. Congressman Ro Khanna and former Ohio legislator Nina Turner warmed up the crowd. Comparing the excitement with that of three years ago, it seemed mellower but just as solid, as if the crowd already knew Bernie's positions and that he was no longer the underdog.
Bernie's speech hit most areas of interest, such as ending racial injustice, immigration reform, legalizing marijuana, taking on the prison industrial complex, ending costly wars, fixing the tax system such that big business paid its fair share of taxes, instituting Medicare for All and free college and creating a jobs program to build houses and house the homeless.
When Bernie briefly spoke against war, the crowd erupted into a chant of, "No more war." Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbared are expected to be the only anti-war candidates on the debate stage. Bernie's supporters are encouraging people to donate a dollar to Tulsi's campaign to guarantee that she makes the debate cut and he will not be alone on that stage against a bunch of hawks.
The rally's low point was Bernie's opening with Russiagate, a sore spot with his 2016 supporters. None of the Administration indictments have reflected any Russian collusion. William Binney, Ray McGovern, Chris Hedges, Greg Palast, Lee Camp, Jimmy Dore, Abby Martin, Niko House, Tyrel Ventura, Cornel West and many other experts have debunked the myth of Russian collusion in the 2016 election. Many of Bernie Sanders supporters consider Russiagate to have been an insult to them personally. A sizable percentage of Bernie's 2016 supporters did not vote for Hillary Clinton and have taken Bernie's Russiagate comments as personal attacks on those who worked to put him into office. The public is tired of hearing of Russia, especially with the release of the Mueller indictment that included no new indictments.
The campaign staff was more relaxed, positive and enthusiastic than in 2016. As the crowd walked in, they were high-fived by greeters. Perhaps, it was that the volunteers were more assured of victory this time or perhaps it was that those currently running the campaign took the "Not me. Us." to heart. This was printed on the staff's and press badges.
The press was also treated with considerably more respectfully than in prior years. In 2016, the press staff presented a cold, totalitarian attitude towards favorable media doing video, who were told their equipment would be confiscated if they complained about having poorer recording locations than "Correct the Record" and other unfavorable press. This time the press volunteers were extremely polite towards all the news services. The only concern that upset several photographers was an unconfirmed report that certain select photographers had been allowed to get close-ups after the press was told there would be none. There was some speculation that the refusal related a desire to limit pictures of Bernie's injuries. The press box was placed in the back behind the audience, forcing photographers to rely on their telephoto lenses for close-ups.
In speaking with people who attended the event, one thing was clear. Progressives believe that Bernie will be the nominee, absent rigging. Most of those interviewed had an extremely low opinion of the Democratic Party. Many insisted that, if the Democrats wanted their 2020 votes, Bernie or Tulsi would have to be the nominee. Otherwise, they would stay home or vote third party. Many said they saw Tulsi's candidacy as putting her at the front of the line for Bernie's VP pick, especially after her 2016 sacrifice of her DNC position to back Bernie. Both Bernie and Tulsi have only spoken respectfully of each others, adding more support to this expectation.