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Sanders begins speaking tour on ‘Where we go now’

A woman holds a sign before a speech by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at Town Hall in New York on June 23, 2016. (EPA/JUSTIN LANE)
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Bernie Sanders said nothing new in his speech at New York's Town Hall -- but he said plenty of it.

For 87 minutes, to rapturous applause and at least once cry of "We won California!", Sanders repeated the themes of his presidential campaign in some of his strongest language yet. The muted tone of his simulcast to supporters one week earlier was replaced by the rumble of a real political rally. The question for the "political revolution," said Sanders, was "whether we win it in the very near future, or a few years from now."

The New York speech kicked off at least 24 hours of rallies on the theme of where Sanders's movement goes next. On Friday, the Vermont senator will give a similar speech in Albany, at a venue that holds less than 500 people -- a step down from the rollicking New York primary campaign. After that, he'll rally for a supporter in Syracuse who's waging a dark horse bid for Congress.

Sanders hinted at more rallies for candidates to come, mentioning (but not naming) a state senate candidate in California whom he'd stump for soon. He also relitigated the argument over New York's uniquely onerous voter registration laws, which require voters to pick a party six months before an election.

"Right here in New York state, three million New Yorkers were denied the right to vote in the Democratic and Republican primaries," said Sanders. "I mean, it doesn't take a sophisticated person to point out that the whole effort by the Democratic and Republican leadership of the state was about making it harder for people to participate in the political process."

In one of his longest speeches as a candidate for the presidency, Sanders did not mention presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. That lack of an immediate political cause added some potency to his remarks. Instead of criticizing Clinton's refusal to support a ban on hydraulic fracturing, Sanders said "Yesterday, we should have banned fracking -- and we damn well should do it tomorrow." Instead of saying she did not go far enough on college affordability, Sanders said that 'what we have brought to the fore, and what will never go away, is that in the year 2016, we've got to make public college tuition free."

Only occasionally did Sanders touch on the mechanics of how to get there. "We have a great committee -- we have five people on there," he said of the Democratic platform drafting committee, which holds its first crucial meeting tomorrow in St. Louis after two rounds of expert testimony. "We in some states won 70, 80 percent of the vote, and you've got superdelegates who aren't respecting the will of the people. We're gonna end that." At another point, Sanders suggested he'd bring one of his dreams -- a new version of Glass-Steagall, which prevented banks from engaging in both commercial activities and securities -- to the floor of the Democratic convention.