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Gettysburg College prepares to host Bernie Sanders

Written by Dustin Levy/Hanover Evening Sun | Apr 22, 2016 8:23 AM
bernie_sanders_pittsburgh.jpg

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, greets supporters after a rally at a campaign stop, Thursday, March 31, 2016, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

(Gettysburg) -- It's time for the Bullets to feel the Bern.

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders will be making a campaign stop at Gettysburg College for a town hall Friday at 11:30 a.m. The event that has the college scrambling because of the short-notice request from the Sanders campaign.

"They reached out to us mid-week," said Jamie Yates, director of communications and media relations at Gettysburg College.

The town hall comes a few days before the Pennsylvania primary on Tuesday, which will pit Sanders against Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

Friday's free campaign event will be held at Bream Gym on the college campus. The Sanders campaign is working with third-party vendors to bring in equipment, Yates said. The school's public safety is also working with Sanders' secret service to make sure they are on the same page.

"All politics aside, I think it says a lot about the Adams County community that a presidential candidate would pick us to visit," said Carl Whitehill, the director of communications for Destination Gettysburg, the county's tourism bureau.

From the feedback she has heard, Yates said students are excited for the upcoming town hall.

"I probably won't see another presidential candidate," said Gettysburg College student Will Harris, who will not be able to attend because of classes. However, Harris said he likely would have went to the town hall otherwise as he has several friends planning to attend. Harris noted the appeal of the school's location for presidential candidates because of the "presidential history here."

Liam Hamilton, another student at the college, said he will attend Friday's event to help him make a decision in Tuesday's primary. Hamilton is not sure who he is voting for, saying he is "on the edge."

"Being able to hear from Bernie Sanders would be really cool," he said.

Austin Berbaum, another student, is less certain about whether he will attend because of classwork and finals. If he does decide to go, he said, he doesn't want to have any expectations.

"I'd see what he has to say," Berbaum said.

Sanders is not the first presidential candidate to appear at Gettysburg College. Ron Paul, an alum of the school, held an event there in 2008, and the college hosted Chelsea Clinton that same year during Hillary Clinton's campaign. Rick Santorum visited the Eisenhower Hotel twice during his 2012 campaign.

"Any time a presidential candidate comes to Gettysburg, I think it's a great opportunity for the town to be showcased," Whitehill said.

Whitehill revealed that a presidential campaign contacted him earlier in the week asking for a venue that seats more than 1,000 people and "plenty of bike racks," and he supplied them with a list of possible locations.

The Sanders campaign will also hold a rally on the Millersville University campus on Friday. Unlike Gettysburg College, Millersville University reached out to Sanders through the College Democrats, according to a news release from the university.

Gettysburg College has hosted a number of politicians recently, including Vermin Supreme, a less-publicized presidential candidate with the Libertarian Party.

Opening the campus up to politicians with such different views has been great, said Hamilton.

Yates echoed the statement, explaining it is always beneficial for students to learn from people with diverse backgrounds.

"We think it's a great event for our students to go to," Yates said. "Of course, it's an important time with Pennsylvania primary coming up."

If you go

What: Bernie Sanders Town Hall

When: 11:30 a.m.

Where: Bream Gym at Gettysburg College

Cost: Free

 

This article is part of a content-sharing partnership between WITF and The Evening Sun

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