Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joins Bernie Sanders for Ames rally

Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about student loan debt, climate, women’s issues and more at his rally on Saturday at the Ames City Auditorium.

Anna Olson

The line leading up to the Ames City Hall Auditorium extended at least two blocks, with scores of Iowa State students in the queue at Sen. Bernie Sanders’ event Saturday.

An overflow room was used for the event for those unable to get into the main auditorium, and at least 500 stood in there waiting to hear Sanders speak briefly, according to Michael Moore, who spoke before Sanders at the event.

Though there were hundreds of “Bernie” buttons decorating the shirts and hats of those in the main hall and the overflow room, some attendees said they were there for one reason: “AOC,” the initials of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Ellen Reed, senior in horticulture at Iowa State, said that she believes Ocasio-Cortez is part of the reason people came.

“I think she brings an interesting voice [with her] politics,” Reed said. “I heard a lot of people say AOC is the reason they came.”

Leila Doric, junior in political science at Iowa State, said Ocasio-Cortez was among the main reasons she attended the event.

“I am a huge fan of AOC,” Doric said.

And Cassidy Peterson, junior at Ames High School, said she thought the words “I love her,” were enough to describe Ocasio-Cortez’s appearance in Ames.

Even with the AOC excitement, there were many supporters there for Sanders.

Kunda Chikwamba, freshman in biology at Iowa State, said he was excited to hear Sanders speak.

“I am really attracted to his policies,” Chikwamba said. “He is a man of character and man of truth.”

Alisha James, an alumna of Iowa State and a volunteer with the Sanders campaign, said Sanders “ignites fire.”

“I love [hearing] him talking about the issues he wants to talk about,” James said.

Tom Mohan, a member of the CCI (Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement) action group, which has endorsed Sanders, said the member driven political force actively supports Sanders.

“We stand with Bernie because he stands with us,” Mohan said.

The event did not just feature Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders.

“Portugal. The Man.” was also there to support Sanders where they sang their hit song “Feel it Still.”

A litany of Sanders staff and volunteers took the stage in the buildup to the senator’s speech.

When it was time for Ocasio-Cortez to come to the stage much of the crowd was chanting “AOC” almost all the way up to her announcing Sanders entrance to the stage.

“This is not just a moment, its a movement,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “It’s a movement for social and economic justice, it’s a movement for true solidarity in the United States of America and it’s a movement to transform our public policy so the United States can finally advance ideals and establish 21st century human rights.”

To end the night, Sanders came out to discuss issues such as the climate change crisis, immigration, college debt, defeating Donald Trump, his perceived electability and to ask for support on caucus night.

“Tonight I am coming before you nine days [before the caucus] to humbly ask for your support,” Sanders said. “Let me make a prediction: on caucus night if somebody tells you that the turnout is high — we win. If somebody tells you turnout is low? We lose.”

In a Siena College poll of likely Iowa Democratic caucusgoers released Saturday, Sanders had taken a lead in the state outside the poll’s 4.8 percent margin of error. The Vermont senator leads with 25 percent support to former Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s 18 percent and former Vice President Joe Biden’s 17 percent.