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Video: Bernie Sanders Appeals Young Voters In UChicago Speech

By Kate Shepherd in News on Sep 28, 2015 6:50PM

Bernie Sanders, via Getty Images

The popular Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders drew crowds to the University of Chicago campus Monday morning, where the university alum called on students to "change the world," and said his time as a student in Hyde Park in the '60s helped define his political views.

Sanders, who benefited from an unlikely boost in the polls this month, also focused on the need for government action on climate change, income inequality, prison reform and investment in education and jobs.

"We have the people," he said. "And if the people stand together, we can change."

Sanders, a 1964 graduate of the University of Chicago brought in to speak by the university's Institute of Politics, appealed to young people in the audience for their idealism, energy and voting power.

"I would hope that all of you are prepared to think big, not small," he told the crowd. "There is nothing that I am telling you today that is pie-in-the-sky utopia. We can do it."

Sanders (I-Vt.) has a long history as an activist with liberal political ideals, even during his days at the University of Chicago. He learned about social justice in Hyde Park and it turned him into a socialist, he said, and he once led a university sit-in against segregated student housing.

Income inequality has taken center-stage in Sanders' wildly successful campaign against Hillary Clinton for the nomination. He also addressed the country's prison problem—The U.S.'s incarceration rate is high among developed nations—and proposed investing more in jobs and education to help reduce incarceration numbers, especially amongst young people.

"I know it's cheaper to send a kid to the University of Chicago than jail," he said.

Following his speech, Sanders took many questions from the crowd while the mastermind behind President Barack Obama's two presidential campaigns David Axelrod, who now helms the Institute of Politics, sat next to him. He answered questions on the Israel/Palestine conflict, the wage gap and even some of his favorite readings from school.

Watch his rousing speech here:

Sanders received standing ovations when he entered and exited the chapel:

Pundits have criticized Sanders for being too far to the left politically to win the general race, for appearing out-of-touch to voters of color and, in some circles, skepticism around his use of the label "socialist." But the Twitter reaction to Sanders' speech in Chicago was overwhelmingly positive Monday afternoon:

However, one University of Chicago alum said that he only had one decent line on immigration, one of the hottest issues of the 2016 campaign so far: