ELKO, Nev. — Bernie Sanders is the first person to say Bernie Sanders's youth appeal has been a surprise in this election.
Speaking on Friday to a crowd featuring many young-looking Nevadans at Elko High School, he showed off just how surprising that appeal can be sometimes. Or maybe how unsurprising it is?
"I know that some of your friends say, 'what? you went to a political meeting? Get a life!'" Sanders said, starting off a standard chunk of his stump speech calling on young voters to buck the prevalent apathy toward politics.
"But I want you to look them right in the eye and tell them I said this," Sanders went on. "If they think that not getting involved in the political process is cool, if they think that not voting is really hip, I want you to–"
Sanders paused for a moment and looked around the room.
"Is that a word we still use?"
The Elko gym broke out in laughter.
Sanders, as he often does, told the young voters in the room to tell their friends that if they stay home from Saturday's Democratic caucuses, people who don't care about the issues affecting young voters will win.
Sanders is relying on youth support to help carry him to victory Saturday. Hillary Clinton has struggled to win over young voters, who polls show have felt the Bern in large numbers this cycle.
Meanwhile, the Sanders campaign needs at least a very good showing in Nevada to prove that his tie in Iowa and landslide victory in the New Hampshire primary weren't just caused by those states' large white populations of Democratic voters.
Sanders said a strong youth turnout is a key to the larger political revolution he promises.
"The issue is do we stand up for ourselves?" he said. "Do we determine the future of this country based on our needs, or do you want a handful of billionaires to make that decision? Tell that to your friends."
Evan McMorris-Santoro is the White House correspondent for BuzzFeed News.
Contact Evan McMorris-Santoro at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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