SALEM, N.H. — It was standing room only in the Derry-Salem Elks Lodge as voters — and future voters — piled in to see Sen. Bernie Sanders host a town hall-style campaign stop.
Monday's weather was mild to the benefit of the dozens of supporters who could not fit into the event space. Sanders thanked them for their dedication and took a few minutes to talk to them before taking the stage inside.
"We're going to have to knock the wall down next time," or find a larger space, Sanders joked.
The Vermont independent and presidential hopeful garnered cheers from the lively crowd as he addressed issues such as health insurance and education. He spoke about how his Medicare for All plan and College for All Act would help create a government with policies founded in "love, compassion (and) justice," rather than the greed and corruption Sanders says he sees taking over Washington.
"We believe we are all in this together, that my family has to be concerned about your family, that your family has to be concerned about her family, and that her family has to be concerned about his family," Sanders said. "That when one person hurts, all of us hurt."
He shared hope that his campaign is more than just beating the "most dangerous president in modern U.S. history."
It's about "transforming this nation in fundamental ways," he said.
His fans in Salem agreed — Sanders is transforming the Democratic Party since his first presidential bid in 2016.
"Now most of the stuff that he was talking about (in 2016) is common in the Democratic party," said Dimitri Stamoulis, 21, of Haverhill.
Stamoulis cited student debt, health insurance, affordable housing and the climate crisis as issues center to him as a soon-to-be college graduate.
"Especially now, thinking what my life is going to look like now when I'm going to have come out of college with student loan debt, and I'm going to have to find affordable housing. Those issues are worrying for a lot of people, and we have a chance to make things better," Stamoulis said.
The senior studying at a Vermont college is 100% for Sanders, he said.
Liz Parez, 37, of Salem is also "totally for Bernie," she said.
"He's just for the people. ... He's non-biased. He's for human kind" as a peaceful, passionate, consistent politician, she said.
Getting tuned into politics took Parez awhile, she admitted to the senator when she had the chance to ask a question.
As a mother of four boys, Parez thanked Sanders for addressing questions that deeply affect her family, like health care and education, and wanted his take on how to get her children more aware of the political process.
"We have got to teach kids a lot better than what democracy is about," Sanders said, explaining that people have to be reminded that democracy is a relatively new idea in the world's history.
He added that people have fought and died for this country and that many of the issues decided at the ballot box — like climate change — are life-or-death choices.
Sanders used the quintessential Town Meeting day, when individual towns vote on annual budgets and other matters, as an example of democracy in action in New Hampshire and Vermont.
"I was never really into politics. It was a thing that (politicians) worked the way they did and I couldn't make a difference," Parez said.
Now, she has flipped her thinking.
"I want to get involved and I want to get my kids involved," Parez said.
She brought her 14-year-old son Monday — which was his birthday — to give him a chance to meet one of the presidential candidates they've discussed at the dinner table.
Sanders evoked the civil rights, women's rights, gay rights and workers rights as grassroots efforts for when "the status quo is not working, we have got to move toward justice," he said.
As Sanders ended his speech, the crowd chanted "Bernie."
He thanked them and reminded them that his goal is to build a political revolution greater than any one individual person.
“I appreciate the ‘Bernie,’ but it’s not Bernie it's all of us," he said.