Bernie Sanders Reminds NYC Rally of Brooklyn Roots Ahead of State Primary

The Vermont senator recalled his youth at a rally in the south Bronx.

— -- Bernie Sanders headed to his hometown of New York City Thursday, ahead of New York State's April 19 primary, and addressed more than 18,500 people at St. Mary's Park in the Bronx.

The venue was overflowing with attendees, many of whom spilled over into an adjacent baseball field. Some Sanders supporters hoping for a glimpse of the Vermont senator-turned-Democratic presidential hopeful even climbed trees and fanned out on hillsides.

Sanders reminded the crowd of his New York City roots, explaining, “We lived in a three-and-a-half room, rent-controlled apartment in Brooklyn. So I learned a little bit about what it means to grow up in a family that has no money. I went to public schools in Brooklyn, New York. I had a good education and I want every kid in this city and in this state to have a quality, good, public education.”

In many ways, though, New York remains Hillary Clinton territory. His Democratic rival represented the state for eight years as its senator and she lives in Westchester County, a suburb north of New York City. Clinton’s campaign is also headquartered in Brooklyn, and a new poll out Thursday from Quinnipiac University has the former Secretary of State leading by 12 points in New York State: Clinton: 54%, Sanders: 42%.

Sanders continues to trail Clinton in both pledged delegates, awarded from state primaries and caucuses, as well as superdelegates, elected Democratic officials and party leaders.

During an appearance on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" Thursday, Sanders said again that he hoped superdelegates from states he won would switch their support and back him.

“I think superdelegates should listen to the will of their people," he told Colbert. "If you get 60, 70, 80 percent of the vote in a state, you know what? I think superdelegates should vote for us. What we need in the Democratic Party is some democracy.”

During his Bronx event, Sanders ticked through his usual list of policy differences between himself and Clinton and criticized her for her paid speeches to Wall Street as he often does on the campaign trail. “I kind of think that if you're going to get paid $250,000 for a speech, it must be a brilliant speech," he said. "It must be an earth-shattering speech. I think the American people have the right to hear it.”

Sanders had very few words for the other born-and-bred New Yorker still in the race: Queens-raised Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump. Sanders said Trump was trying to scapegoat minorities and that his campaign was instead trying to bring all people together.

New York has 197 crucial delegates up for grabs. In order to win the nomination, Sanders would likely need to win a large majority of them. He ended his night urging the crowd to come out to vote. “If we win here in New York we are going to make it to the White House."