Momentum Stirs As Democratic Debate Approaches

As New York State’s April 19 Democratic primary draws closer, supporters on both sides of the race are gearing up for a final push. In the weeks leading up to tonight’s Democratic debate, both candidates have established campaign offices in Westchester, and organized rallies in the Hudson Valley.

Bernie Sanders drew more than 4,000 supporters to his April 12 rally at Marist College’s McCann Center in Poughkeepsie, and there are rumors that he may make a stop at The Paramount in Peekskill this Saturday. On Sunday, Sanders campaign volunteers opened a campaign office on Main Street in Yonkers, where visitors can pick up campaign literature, yard signs, or make phone calls in support of the campaign.

In Poughkeepsie, Sanders energized his supporters with quotes from FDR’s 1944 State of the Union address, declaring, “True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.”

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This statement highlights a divide existing between the Sanders-supporting college students and the Clinton-supporting public. Sanders’ free college plan appeals to the students. “I definitely like the idea of free college,” says Nic Inglese, Purchase College sophomore. “Removing some of the debt burden on students would help a lot.”

On the other hand, many Westchester residents have that same faith in Clinton. The Clinton campaign opened an office in downtown White Plains earlier last week. It was filled with constituents willing to donate their time, their money, and their passion to her election. “I definitely believe that she has what it takes to win,” says Alison Greene, White Plains resident. “I remember the first time I met her—it was during [Bill Clinton’s] first presidential bid. She made such a great impression on people.” 

On March 31 Clinton stopped by SUNY Purchase for her own rally, where she outlined her positions on education, healthcare, and the economy.  

The Purchase student-body expressed a pro-Bernie stance through a walk-out in the early moments of the Clinton speech. A group of approximately 20 students shouted, “She wins, we lose,” and proceeded to exit the theater, meeting fellow protesters who couldn’t get into the rally outside the Performing Arts Center. But the rafters behind New York’s former Senator were filled with hundreds of sign-waving supporters who started their own pro-Clinton chants in response to the students.

The former Secretary of State has maintained her lead in the delegate count, in spite of coming up short in seven of the last eight primaries. She currently has 1,280 pledged delegates to Sanders’ 1,030. The 247 delegates at stake in Clinton’s adoptive home of New York are critical to the future of the race.

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Keep up with the race by tuning in to tonight’s debate on CNN at 9 pm. 

Related: Do The Clintons Really Charge Their Secret Service Agents Rent?

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