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Vancouver preps for Bernie Sanders visit

Presidential candidate's website says event has reached RSVP capacity

By , Columbian Political Writer
Published: March 18, 2016, 9:00pm
4 Photos
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a campaign rally at Skyline High School in Idaho Falls, Idaho, Friday, March 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Kimberlee Kruesi) (john locher/Associated Press)
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a campaign rally at Skyline High School in Idaho Falls, Idaho, Friday, March 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Kimberlee Kruesi) (john locher/Associated Press) Photo Gallery

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders’ supporters said the Vermont senator should feel at home during his quick visit to Vancouver on Sunday.

“It’s a place where people care about each other. … We care about the air, the water, the place we live and other human beings,” said Roben White, a volunteer with Clark County Democrats. “Which is an example of what Bernie is about and his campaign is about.”

Sanders will hold rallies in Vancouver, Seattle and Spokane on Sunday ahead of the state’s Democratic caucuses on March 26.

Sanders’ campaign said he will speak on college affordability, immigration reform and the need for campaign finance reform.

The rally in Vancouver will be held at 1 p.m. at Hudson’s Bay High School, 1601 E. McLoughlin Blvd. The gym has seating for 4,400 people, with space for 300 on the floor. Doors will open at 11 a.m., with admittance on a first-come, first-served basis. An RSVP on the Sanders campaign website does not guarantee admission.

If You Go

Bernie Sanders rally

Where: Hudson’s Bay High School, 1601 E. McLoughlin Blvd., Vancouver.

When: Sunday. Doors open at 11 a.m. with Sanders speaking at 1 p.m.

Admission: Free, though space is on a first-come, first-served basis. An RSVP on the Sanders campaign website does not guarantee admission.

The campaign requested RSVPs to get a head count for the event, but the website on Friday said the event had reached its capacity. In August, more than 28,000 people showed up at the Moda Center in Portland to hear Sanders speak.

Several Sanders supporters on social media said Friday that they planned to camp at the school, but district officials warned that overnight camping is not permitted on school property.

Richard Rogers, the Clark County Democratic chair, noted candidates don’t always bother to make a pit stop in Washington state during the election cycle.

“Our timing generally means we’re not seen as an important player on the national scene,” he said. “It’s nice to be cared about.”

Rogers said he’s not surprised Sanders is making a stop in Vancouver.

“Clark County is seen as a swing district, and with the proximity to Portland — Oregon has their primary soon,” he said.

Sanders is visiting the state ahead of Washington’s Democratic caucus on March 26. The state’s Democrats will allocate 101 delegates.

White has been knocking on doors and making phone calls in support of Sanders for more than eight months.

“People are realizing he’s a force to be reckoned with, he is electable and a valid candidate,” he said.

Vancouver resident Roy Valo said he is prepared to wake up early in the morning to attend the rally.

“When it comes to national politics, one of the biggest things that’s lacking is integrity,” Valo said. “When it comes to Bernie Sanders, there’s no question where he stands on that. … You can’t question his integrity.”

Hillary Clinton’s campaign said the presidential candidate doesn’t have any events planned for Vancouver. Her campaign does have an office in Vancouver. Former President Bill Clinton will attend a campaign event for his wife on Monday in Spokane. On Tuesday, Hillary Clinton will attend events in Seattle and Everett.

Clark County Republican Chair Kenny Smith said he doesn’t expect any counter protests or disruption at the Sanders event.

“The idea that people would interrupt someone else’s speech, well, I don’t really understand people doing that. I don’t know if it’s an indication of people not trusting the voters to listen to a presentation and make up their mind, but I would prefer people have opportunity to do that,” Smith said.

The campaign asked guests to not bring bags and to limit what they take with them to small, personal items like keys and cellphones. Weapons, sharp objects, chairs, and signs or banners on sticks will not be allowed through security.

Kaitlin Gillespie and Andy Matarrese contributed to this report.

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