Megan Hazuga —
On Saturday, April 2, three major presidential candidates made stops for their campaigns in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
Senator Bernie Sanders spoke at The University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire’s (UWEC) campus in Zorn Arena at noon, Senator Hillary Clinton spoke at the Lismore Hotel in downtown Eau Claire around 3 p.m. and Donald Trump spoke at Memorial High School at around 7 p.m.
About two hours before the Sanders rally, the line stretched roughly half a mile around UWEC’s campus and halfway up Garfield Hill. The temperatures were below freezing, and it had just snowed the night before, so it was a grueling wait to see the man himself.
The line consisted of many people differing in age, gender and race, but the majority appeared to be younger people.
Zorn Arena fits about 3,400 people. They weren’t sure if everyone was going to fit, and some people did end up getting turned away. The chance of not getting in plus the long wait and toe-numbing temperatures tested the will of those in line.
As supporters entered the Arena, security searched them for weapons and other dangerous objects.
Justin Vernon, an Eau Claire native and the main man behind Bon Iver, came out to speak a few words about his feelings towards Sanders and introduced him. Everyone chanted the popular phrase “Feel The Bern” as Sanders and his wife came out on stage and began his speech.
Sanders talked about many important topics that are popular with young people, including the decriminalization of marijuana, lowering student debt and the cost of college, mental health care in our country and redistributing the wealth from the top 1 percent to the bottom 40 percent. His statements and ideas drew many cheers and clapping from the crowd.
The Eau Claire news station WEAU reports Clinton’s rally also reached full capacity of 1,000 at the Lismore Hotel and even had an overflow room, but also had to turn some people away. Her supporters had to wait an extra hour for her as she was running late, but they didn’t mind and waited patiently. Clinton encouraged her supporters to get out and vote, and said she believed she would be the winner of the Wisconsin primaries.
Trump’s rally also had to turn people away, as the high school auditorium only fits a crowd of about 1,000. The line wrapped around the entire high school and all throughout the parking lot. Ambulances were on standby in the parking lot, as if it was expected something could go wrong. Ambulances had not been seen at either of the other candidates’ locations. There were also dozens of police on the roof of the school observing people.
The security presence was much larger at the Trump rally compared to the Sanders rally.
Despite clashes between protesters and Trump supporters occurring at previous rallies, the Eau Claire Police Department recorded no arrests or citations at the event.