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Bernie Sanders in Asheville: 2020 candidate is first to make a stop in WNC

The Bernie Sanders rally crowd has been capped at 2,000 by fire marshal and permit, so many fans can’t get inside Salvage Station.

(Photo: John Boyle/Citizen Times)

Check back here through the day for the latest on the Bernie Sanders rally in Asheville and reactions to it.

ASHEVILLE – The first presidential candidate to visit WNC in the 2020 election cycle — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — is at Salvage Station in the River Arts District.

Sanders on abortion

Sanders is railing about restrictive abortion laws recently passed in Alabama, reporter John Boyle notes. ”Laws that will quite literally get women killed,” Sanders says.

Alabama’s governor signed a bill on May 15 making performing an abortion a felony in nearly all cases.

Overflow crowd let in

The supporters left at the gates have been allowed inside by the fire marshal. Reporter Elizabeth Anne Brown says security at the Salvage Station estimates the crowd is around 2,500 total.

Bernie Sanders hits the stage

“I was told coming to North Carolina wouldn’t make much sense because it was a republican state. Doesn’t look like that today,” Sanders said after he was introduced by former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner.

Capacity crowd

The crowd at Salvage Station has been capped at 2,000, John Boyle reports. That has left supporters outside the gates.

Who’s speaking?

Reporter Joel Burgess just tweeted out the speaker list for the rally: former City Councilman James Allen Sutherland, local activist Ashley McDermott and former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner. Turner will introduce Sanders.

What are supporters saying?

Claire D’Gaia, 65, of Burnsville is at the rally. “Ask me why I work three jobs,” D’Gaia told reporter Elizabeth Anne Brown. “Because my Social Security is not enough to live on!”

She voted for Sanders in 2016 and said she likes that he wants to increase Social Security payments.

Former Asheville City Council member Cecil Bothwell at the Bernie Sanders rally at Salvage Station on May 17, 2019.
Who’s speaking?

Cecil Bothwell, former Asheville City Council member, will kick off the rally. Reporter John Boyle found him in the crowd and talked to him a bit. ““It’s a really big deal, and I believe he is going to be our next president,” Bothwell said.

What’s the occupancy of Salvage Station?

Co-owner Katie Hild says the occupancy has been capped at 2,100 for the rally, Citizen Times reporter Elizabeth Anne Brown has confirmed.

RAD gridlock

If you’re on your way to the event, expect to sit in traffic. With only a couple of entrances and potentially thousands of people headed into Salvage Station, Riverside Drive is packed as of 11:10 a.m.

Traffic around Salvage Station on Riverside Drive in Asheville ahead of the Bernie Sanders rally on May 17, 2019.
Crowds filtering into Salvage Station

The gates opened at 10:30 a.m. and supporters — or just curious residents — are starting to trickle in.

Sanders is one of more than 20 Democrats running to unseat President Donald Trump.

Which candidates have visited Asheville?

In recent years, WNC has become a popular stop for candidates or their surrogates, especially in the weeks leading up to the general election.

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