Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Bernie Sanders held what he said was the largest grassroots campaign event of the 2016 president race so far Wednesday night, broadcasting a video message over his website to tens of thousands of people at gatherings around the country.
“Tonight really is an historic night,” said Sanders. “To the best of our knowledge, there has never been a political online organizing event this early in the campaign which involved 100,000 people in 3,500 locations in every state in the United States of America. And that’s pretty impressive.”
While those numbers could not be independently verified, there was a good deal of online chatter leading up to the live broadcast.
The number of people who RSVP’d to the events ranged from four to hundreds of people.
Michelle Tiegs in Souix Falls, South Dakota, said she was not sure what to expect, but then received RSVPs every hour after posting her event. She ended up moving her event to a new location after over 200 people signed up to attend. “We are just completely overwhelmed, mystified by how many people have signed up,” she said.
People signed up to host through the Sanders campaign website and volunteers helped answer questions. “What we gave seen across this campaign is RSVPs actually under-sell the Senator’s events, and we’re expecting the same thing tonight,” said the campaign’s digital director Kenneth Pennington.
After the senator delivered his message, one of his campaign organizers spoke to viewers about need to turn their enthusiasm into a “coordinated grassroots movement.”
“To win this election and build a real political revolution we need to be everywhere. We need you to bring this movement to your community by doing un-glamorous but essential work like knocking on doors, calling voters,” digital organizing director for the campaign, Claire Sandberg, told those watching online.
Manisha Sharma, who hosted the house party in southeast Washington, D.C. where Sanders delivered his message, said that was why she volunteered to have a party.
“He doesn’t have name recognition,” Sharma said. “He has conscious recognition. I feel he’s doing God’s work,” she said. She has a tech start up and said she believed in his message about regulating banks and supporting community banking.
Sharma signed up online like thousands of others about a week ago to host an event, and a few days ago was asked by the campaign if they would let the Senator deliver his message from her party.
Besides the network cameras and intensive internet setup, it looked like a regular house party with homemade signs, guacamole and Bernie cocktails.
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