Sanders’ West Coast campaign makes key stops in Washington

VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — More than 7,500 people turned out to a high school in Vancouver, Washington on Sunday for a Bernie Sanders rally, the first of three taking place in the state that day.

The Vermont senator spent the past week in Arizona, and now is taking his campaign to Washington and other West Coast states that he hopes will help him make up ground after a solid delegate lead built up by Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

Clinton has a lead of more than 300 delegates over Sanders from primaries and caucuses following a sweep of five states last Tuesday, so the Pacific Northwest has become important territory for him. Washington state, Alaska and Hawaii hold Democratic caucuses on Saturday, and Washington has the most delegates ultimately at stake with 101.

In a packed gymnasium, Sanders declared the nation’s economic, campaign finance and criminal justice systems as being “rigged” and criticized pharmaceutical companies for rising drug costs. He vowed to recalibrate the economic disparities he accused corporate America of creating by raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Washington is reliably Democratic when it comes to presidential elections. It hasn’t gone for a Republican candidate since Ronald Reagan in 1984.

The rally was an unprecedented event for Vancouver’s 167,000 population, which has been historically overlooked during presidential campaigns.