News out of the Bernie Sanders campaign has been rather glum in recent days.
He suffered several losses to Hillary Clinton, his campaign fundraising plummeted last month and he laid off hundreds of staffers. With only a handful of primaries left, Sanders is trailing Clinton by hundreds of total delegates, and his path to victory looks increasingly narrow.
But you wouldn't know all that Monday night, when Sanders filled an outdoor plaza in downtown Indianapolis with thousands of supporters who went wild as he enumerated his proposals to legalize marijuana, tax Wall Street and make tuition free at public universities.
It was the Vermont senator’s third big rally of the day, part of an aggressive last-minute push to turn out Indiana voters ahead of Tuesday’s primary.
“We have won 17 primaries and caucuses,” Sanders told the cheering crowd. “With your help we’re going to make it number 18.”
Sanders, who spoke in front of a picturesque marble Civil War memorial, has some reason to be optimistic. Recent polls show him in a competitive race with Clinton in the state. Besides, he typically performs better among white voters than among minorities, and Indiana is a mostly white state.
Still, Clinton's momentum in recent weeks is undeniable. In a sign that she is turning her focus to the general election, she wasn't even campaigning in Indiana on Monday.
The Sanders campaign estimated that 7,800 people turned out for Monday night's rally, among them Nancy Barker, 46, and her husband and 9-year-old daughter. It was Barker's second time seeing Sanders speak in just a few days.
“I love that he doesn't take corporate money," said Barker, who works at a university in Indianapolis. "I don't feel like he's fake."
“I would like to see everything shook up a little," she said.
Her husband, Mark, who receives disability assistance, said he knows Sanders’ path to victory is difficult, but said that does not affect his vote.
“I'm going stick with him as long as he's in the race,” Barker said.
That couple said they were not used to their primary votes counting. Typically at this stage in a presidential election, both the major-party nominations are already sewn up.
But in recent days, Indiana has begun to look a lot like Iowa, the first-in-the-nation caucus state that has outsized influence in deciding each party’s presidential nominee.
Along with big campaign rallies and surprise candidate stops at churches and restaurants, the airwaves are crowded with political advertisements. The Sanders campaign has spent about $1 million on ads in the state.