GAINESVILLE, Fla (WOFL FOX 35) - Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Thursday made campaign stops in Gainesville and Kissimmee to rally supporters ahead of Tuesday's Florida Presidential Primary.
A few thousand supporters from around North Florida flocked to watch the Democratic candidate speak at the University of Florida. During the rally, the Vermont senator put on a Florida Gators hat and spoke of how the state loves football and made metaphorical references to the sport and politics.
"Now I know that Florida is big football country right?" he asked the cheering crowd. "Unless you're out on the playing field, football is a spectator sport. Democracy is not!"
Sanders made a wardrobe change before speaking to supporters in Kissimmee, swapping out the Florida Gators hat for a Central Florida Knights hat. He tailored his "take-on Wall Street" message for a largely Hispanic audience.
"We're gonna tell the Wall Street vultures who own bonds in Puerto Rico, 'No!' They are not going to destroy that beautiful island."
Before the Kissimmee rally, Sanders sat down with FOX 35's Dana Jay for a one-on-one interview. She asked the senator how promises of universal healthcare and free college tuition would become a reality under his administration.
"Why should we be the only major country not to have paid family medical leave? Why should we have the highest rate of childhood poverty?" he responded. "The answer is the people on top have enormous power. They want more and more, and I intend to try and change that."
Sanders, a self-described Democratic Socialist, has struggled with minority voters in caucuses and primary contests. When asked how he planned to appeal to voters with roots in Latin America, where socialism has historically caused turmoil, he said, "You've got to look at the issues we're fighting for. Ask those same people whether they think it's a good to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Ask them whether they think it's a good idea for every person in this country to have healthcare."
The Florida Primary will be decided on March 15, as Sanders is shown trailing Hillary Clinton in the latest polls. Sanders promised that he is ready to make a comeback and he did it with a little bit of swagger.
"I think we were 30 points down a week before the election in Michigan. People became familiar with our ideas, with what we're fighting for, and look, at the end of the day, very few people support an economy which is rigged, in which ordinary people work longer hours for lower wages, while almost all the income and wealth goes to the top one percent."
The Sanders campaign estimates over 4,000 attended the rally in Kissimmee. Numbers were not immediately available for the Gainesville rally.