EDWARDSVILLE, IL (KTVI) - It is a historic day at SIU-Edwardsville as Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders made a stop on the campus. This is the first time ever that a presidential candidate has come to SIUE.
Thousands of people lined up outside the Vadalabene Center hours before the event started. Sanders addressed the crowd for nearly one hour at the center which holds 5,000 people.
Sanders spoke on a wide range of issues including making public colleges and universities tuition-free, getting big money out of politics, combating climate change and ensuring universal health care.
The closest SIUE has come to this kind of high profile appearance by a politician is when former president Bill Clinton was there in 2008 campaigning for his wife.
A recent poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at SIU-Carbondale shows Hillary Clinton ahead of sanders by 19 percentage points in Illinois. But those at the rally think Sanders can at least cut into that margin before the Illinois primary on March 15th.
Missouri's primary is March 15th as well. By speaking in nearby Edwardsville, Sanders was able to reach out to voters on both sides of the state.
Friday's event was free and open to the public.