About 5,000 people crowded together on the University of Arizona Mall to hear Bernie Sanders, roughly five months since he ended his bid to be president.
The Vermont senator championed many of the same issues he talked about in previous speeches in Tucson, complaining about billionaires buying elections, calling for college to be made free for most Americans, and urging an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
He said his message was still the same — the election is not about a singular person but about millions of voters who want serious reform.
“Real change never ever takes place unless millions of people band together,” Sanders said. “Our job is to create an economy, create an America, create a government that represents all of us.”
Sanders, who made the evening stop in Tucson to campaign for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, made it clear that the former secretary of state had not only heard his message — but that she listened.
Eliminating tuition for families earning less than $125,000 annually, Sanders said, is an important priority for the Clinton campaign, adding that the United States has lost ground in the global marketplace as some adults could not afford to go to college after high school.
Sanders also said the Clinton campaign wants to forgive student loans for teachers by expanding a similar existing federal program used to encourage doctors to work in rural areas.
For those in the crowd who already have student loans, Sanders said the federal government needs to lower their interest rates.
“This is pretty crazy but there are people paying student debt at six, eight, 10 percent on their student loans,” Sanders remarked, contrasting that to some car loans as low as 1.5 percent.
Sanders often turned his focus to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, sarcastically thanking the billionaire for giving him the best possible example for why the current tax system is broken.
His speech grew fiery as Sanders railed against a man he said travels around in private jets and doesn’t have to pay taxes.
The “rigged system” against the poor would end if Clinton is elected, Sanders promised, saying Trump and multinational corporations would be forced to pay their fair share in taxes.
“On November 8th our job is to defeat Trump and elect Hillary Clinton,” Sanders told the crowd.
The crowd jeered every time he mentioned Trump’s name.
“Donald Trump has a brilliant idea — and by definition every thing Donald Trump says is ‘brilliant,’ evidently — to sweep up and deport 11 million undocumented people,” Sanders said. “Hillary Clinton and I have a very, very different idea. We need to move toward comprehensive immigration reform.”
“We cannot elected a candidate to be president who refers to our Mexican brothers and sisters as rapists and criminals,” Sanders said.
“I believe if we don’t let Trump divide us up,” he said, “there is nothing we can’t accomplish.”
Electoral reform was also a top issue for Sanders on Tuesday night, as he said Clinton told him personally that she would push for a constitutional amendment to overturn the controversial Citizens United decision. A split Supreme Court held in that ruling that independent political spending by for-profit corporations and others are protected forms of free speech.
“Almost everybody understands that we cannot have a vibrant democracy with billionaires buying elections,” Sanders said.