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Sanders stumps before thousands inside - and outside - UB Alumni Arena

An estimated 8,000 people gave Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders an enthusiastic welcome on the University at Buffalo's North Campus Monday evening. But first, the U.S. Senator from Vermont took time to address an estimated 3,000 people who couldn't get inside Alumni Arena.

When Sanders climbed the stage and spoke beneath a Jumbotron scoreboard that bore his logo before projecting his image, he called his campaign one that is "on the move." And he acknowledged the crowd that began lining up outside in the rain hours before.

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Credit Eileen Koteras Elibol / WBFO News
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WBFO News
Bernie Sanders addresses the crowd before beginning his campaign speech Monday night in UB's Alumni Arena.

"What this campaign is about is thinking outside of the box and raising issues that other politicians refuse to go near," Sanders said early into his hour-long address.

He began by calling the campaign finance system corrupt, the economy rigged to favor the wealthy and the criminal justice system broken.

Sanders mentioned Goldman Sachs' multi-billion dollar settlement in relation to the misleading of  investors on mortgage assets. He called for the breakup of Wall Street's "big banks," and for an economy that supports all citizens, not just its wealthiest.

"You want a radical idea? Together we are going to create an economy that works for all of us, not just the one percent," Sanders said.

While most of Sanders' speech provided a broad overview of his campaign platform, he did focus more closely on Western New York when he shifted toward his Democratic primary rival, Hillary Clinton, and their differences. They include opinions on the Iraq War, Wall Street and trade agreements.

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WBFO's Mike Desmond sought reaction from some in attendance at Monday night's Bernie Sanders speech at UB's Alumni Arena.

On global trade, Sanders told the audience NAFTA has resulted in the loss of 31,000 jobs in Buffalo. He cited the more than 700 jobs lost when American Axle shifted operations to Mexico and the roughly 800 jobs GM Powertrain cut in 2008.

He also took aim at permanent normal trade relations with China, which Sanders said resulted in the loss of 179,000 "good-paying jobs" in New York State.

"In 2013, Niagara Ceramics threw 110 workers out on the streets because of unfair competition with China," Sanders said.

He also noted that Hillary Clinton has accepted six-figure fees to speak on Wall Street, though transcripts have not been made public. He then declared in front of the UB crowd that he was about to release his own transcripts of Wall Street speeches, setting up a punch line that the grand total of those speeches was none.

After offering critical remarks about his Democratic challenger, Sanders shifted his attention to the Republican front-runner, Donald Trump. After saying that many are worried about the prospect of Trump winning the White House, Sanders declared "it ain't gonna happen."

He first cited a poll that puts his campaign 20 points above that of Trump. He then explained why, in his mind, Trump will not win.

"Because the American people understand that our strength is in our diversity," Sanders said. "We will not allow a Donald Trump to divide us up by insulting Mexicans and Latinos, by insulting Muslims, by insulting women, by insulting veterans, by insulting the African-American community."

Sanders added that if there's one thing the world's major religious faiths teach, it's that "love trumps hatred."

With Sanders' appearance in Buffalo, the Democratic presidential candidates have completed their visits to Buffalo. Now, it's the Republicans' turn. Ted Cruz is scheduled to appear on Thursday, while Donald Trump's planned rally at First Niagara Center in downtown Buffalo has been moved to Monday, just one night before the polls open for the New York Primary.

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Listen to Bernie Sanders' full campaign speech at Alumni Arena, University at Buffalo (Monday, April 11, 2016).

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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