KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders on Thursday raised the prospect of another come-from-behind victory next week in the Florida primary, telling a crowd of more than 5,200 people here that he could replicate his unexpected success in Michigan.
Florida is the biggest prize among the five states voting Tuesday, and recent polls have showed Hillary Clinton with a sizable lead, as they did ahead of Michigan’s primary this week.
“What all of the pundits said, and what all of the media said, is Bernie Sanders and the political revolution can’t win in Michigan,” Sanders told his crowd here. “Guess what? We won in Michigan.… Now here in Florida, next Tuesday, I believe that if there is a large voter turnout, if you come out, and your friends and families and neighbors come out, we are going to win here in Florida.”
Sanders's outdoor rally here was the second of three held Thursday in a state in which his advisers have privately suggested he faces long odds, in part because of the large number of seniors who traditionally vote. In previous contests, Sanders has vastly outperformed Clinton among young voters, while Clinton has bested him among older voters.
Earlier Thursday, Sanders drew about 5,800 people to a rally at the University of Florida in Gainesville. More than 9,000 showed up later in Tampa. All told, Sanders spoke to close to 20,000 people on Thursday.
At his Florida stops, Sanders peppered his stump speech with references to issues of particular interest to state voters.
He pledged to expand Social Security. He said he would put an end to offshore oil drilling. He promised to make comprehensive immigration reform a priority.
And Sanders blamed “Wall Street vultures" for Puerto Rico’s debt crisis.
“Our brothers and sisters from Puerto Rico are tired of Wall Street vulture institutions charging their government outrageously high interest rates and forcing the government there to close down schools and health facilities,” he said. “And we’re going to tell the Wall Street vultures who own bonds in Puerto Rico, no, they are not going to destroy that beautiful island.”
Sanders has stops planned Friday in North Carolina, Ohio and Illinois, three more states with primaries on Tuesday. Missouri also votes on Tuesday.