This story has been updated.
BOSTON — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) drew a crowd of more than 20,000 here on Saturday night, building on the momentum of a week during which he posted a quarterly fundraising total that nearly matched that of Hillary Rodham Clinton, his chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination.
The boisterous turnout at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center appeared to far exceed a previous record for a primary candidate in Massachusetts: a crowd of about 10,000 that came to see then-senator Barack Obama eight years ago as he campaigned for the presidency, according to the Boston Globe.
Sanders — who has drawn large crowds around the country, including 28,000 in Portland, Ore., in August — also attracted about 6,000 people to a rally earlier Saturday in Springfield, Mass.
Sanders's campaign initially issued an estimate of 20,000 for the rally here. A few hours, it revised the total to 24,000, citing a count of people gathered outside the hall provided by an official at the venue.
Massachusetts is among about a dozen states with primaries or caucuses planned for March 1, the day known as Super Tuesday. Both Clinton and Sanders have started visiting and building organizations in those states, in anticipation of a nominating contest that could remain competitive well beyond Iowa and New Hampshire.
Sanders this week reported raising $26 million during the past three months, just shy of the $28 million Clinton said she had raised. Sanders, who was written off by many as a fringe candidate just a few months ago, referenced his fundraising total early in his hour-long remarks, saying he was proud of the way he had raised money since launching his campaign: from 650,000 donors who’ve given an average of just $30 each.
“I do not represent the agenda of the billionaire class or corporate America, and I do not want their money,” said Sanders, a self-described Democratic socialist. “We are running a people’s campaign. … We have something they don’t have. Look around this room. This is what we have that they don’t have.”
Sanders served up largely the same list of priorities as he does at other stops around the country, including addressing the “grotesque” amount of income inequality in the country, making health care a right and combating climate change.
Sanders also gave a plug Saturday night to the work of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a favorite of the political left.
“As your Senator Elizabeth Warren reminds us, this is a rigged economy,” Sanders said. “And this is the economy we are going to fix.”
In the wake of this week’s shootings at a community college in Oregon, Sanders also spoke about the need for some additional gun control measures, including closing the “gun-show loophole” on background checks.
Sanders, who has a mixed record on gun control, including a vote against the landmark Brady Bill in 1993, also stressed the need for improving mental health services.
“In my view, we need a revolution in terms of mental health in this country,” Sanders said. “People who are in crisis should not have to wait weeks or months for the care they need.”
His speech was enthusiastically embraced by the overflow crowd, which interrupted Sanders frequently with applause and chants of “Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!”
Jim Kernohan, a high school physics teacher in Boston, was among those eagerly waiting in the crowd Saturday night to hear Sanders for the first time.
Kernohan, 53, said his son, who works in Manchester, N.H., had recently seen Sanders and told him how electric his appearance was. “So I had to see it for myself,” he said.
Even before Sanders spoke, Kernohan said he was sold on Sanders, based on his calls to provide free public college tuition, tax Wall Street trades and overturn the Citizens United court decision, which has allowed more money to be spent influencing politics.
Justin Mendoza, a Sanders enthusiast who attended the rally, marveled at the energy in the crowd afterward.
“It was beautiful, wasn’t it?” asked Mendoza, 24, a health-care worker in the Boston area.
Sanders had planned to hold a rally in August. It was postponed, however, because the campaign couldn’t find a venue on short notice large enough to hold the number of people they anticipated.