Bernie Sanders holds campaign rally at Waterfront Park

SAN DIEGO -- Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, is holding a rally in San Diego Friday for the first time since launching his 2020 campaign.

The campaign stop is part of a West Coast swing by Sanders that also includes rallies in Los Angeles and San Francisco. He has also made stops in early primary and caucus states like Iowa and New Hampshire since announcing his candidacy last month.

Sanders last campaigned in California in October to stump for local candidates like Rep. Mike Levin, D-Oceanside, in the lead-up to the November mid-term election. When he ran for the Democratic nomination in 2016, he held rallies in National City and Vista that each drew several thousand people.

Sanders joined striking workers outside Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles Wednesday, when thousands of University of California research and technical workers picketed at facilities across the state in a one- day strike called amid contentious contract negotiations.

"The University of California is one of the great university systems in the world, but it is not good enough to be a great university," Sanders told the cheering crowd. " ... It is not good enough to have a great hospital or medical center. The University of California must not be a corporate-type employer. The University of California must be a model employer.

"It must be an employer that respects its workers. It must be a employer that treats its workers with dignity and it must sit down with its union and negotiate in good faith," Sanders said. "I want to thank you for standing up and fighting back, because the struggle that you are fighting here is a struggle that exists in every state in this country. ... The working families of this country are demanding an economy that works for all of us, and that can begin right here."

Sanders, 77, is considered one of the front runners in a field for the Democratic nomination that could eventually include as many as two dozen candidates. California Sen. Kamala Harris, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and former El Paso, Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke are among the more than 15 candidates to enter the race to date.

Sanders was set to appear at the rally at Waterfront Park at 1600 Pacific Highway around 5:30 p.m. Tickets were not required.

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