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Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks to a full house at the Redfern Arts Center at Keene State College Saturday. (Meghan Pierce)

Sanders addresses overflow crowd at Keene State College


KEENE — More than 1,000 people turned out at a town hall-style meeting held by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at Keene State College on Saturday afternoon.

The Redfern Arts Center was filled to its 800-person capacity. The turnout, including overflow, was 1,066, according to a Sanders staff member. The session was also live-streamed to 160 universities across the country.
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Sanders decried “the state of American democracy.” Most people have given up and don't vote, he said, because without campaign finance reform politicians are merely serving their big donors and not the interests of the people.
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“Our government belongs to all of us and not just a handful of billionaires,” Sanders said. “Those people don't own America. You own America. … I want to see any of you regardless of your political views — you're conservative, you're progressive, whatever — I want to see you be able to run for office and get involved in the process without having to beg the wealthy for campaign donations, which is why I believe in the public funding of elections.”
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Sanders spoke for an hour without taking questions from the crowd.

Sanders received several standing ovations when talking about domestic issues, such as upholding the right of gay marriage and abortion rights for women.
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He drew his largest response from the crowd when talking about providing free college education at public colleges and universities. Sanders said he would pay for it through a tax on Wall Street speculation.
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“The middle class bailed out Wall Street in its time of need. Now it's time for Wall Street to bail out the middle class,” he said.

Sanders touched on the recent shooting linked to terrorism in California, saying as President he would fight ISIS smartly while also implementing his domestic policies.
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“We cannot and should not be trapped in perpetual warfare in the Middle East,” Sanders said.

As President, Sanders said he would put together a large coalition of countries to fight ISIS, with strong participation from Muslim countries in the Middle East.
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“The fight against ISIS primarily a struggle for the soul of Islam, and countering violent extremism and destroying ISIS must be done primarily by the Muslim nations. … The boots on the ground for a dozen different reasons must be Muslim boots.”
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