POLITICS

Bernie Sanders 'Surprised' By Size Of Crowds At His Campaign Rallies

06/11/2015 11:18 am ET | Updated Jun 12, 2015
Alex Wong via Getty Images

WASHINGTON -- The number of adoring supporters who have shown up at presidential campaign events for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is bigger than even the candidate himself expected.

"I am surprised by the size of the crowds. In Keene, New Hampshire, on Saturday, we had close to a thousand people," Sanders told reporters on Thusday at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington, D.C..

The self-described democratic socialist, who has presented himself as a champion of the working class against the interests of big business and corporate America, has drawn sizable crowds in early primary states. Last month, several thousand people turned out to hear Sanders speak in Minneapolis, Minnesota. And in New Hampshire, the Vermont senator has attracted more interest, at least in sheer numbers, than much of the 2016 Republican presidential field.

Although Sanders said his campaign is "bulking up" for additional swings through early primary states, he conceded that he would ultimately be outspent by rivals who enjoy support from more deep-pocketed donors and super PACs, which are able to raise unlimited sums of money in support of a preferred candidate.

"We are going to be outspent, but that was never the question," Sanders said. "The question is could we raise the money to run a winning campaign? And I think we can."

Asked by a reporter what he had learned since announcing his run for the White House, Sanders decried the army of lobbyists and consultants who make their living by turning the democratic process into a business -- generally in the nation's capital.

"A lot of people want to make a lot of money off of campaigns," he said. "There is an entire industry here in Washington, D.C., of folks who are prepared to help you at some extravagant price."

Sanders continues to trail Clinton in the polls by some 50 points. But he isn't sweating it. Rather, the senator argued that once more people have heard of him and what he stands for, the numbers will start to turn in his favor.

"Polls have a lot to do with name recognition. I think [Clinton] may certainly be one of the best-known people in the U.S. I am not. I think our name recognition is growing," he said. "We have momentum. Our numbers are growing."

Correction: This article incorrectly stated that Sanders has drawn larger crowds at campaign rallies than Hillary Clinton. The Clinton campaign will hold its first major rally Saturday.

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