"You are the heart and soul of this revolution," Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders told a diverse crowd of an estimated 18,000 supporters in the Bronx on Thursday.
In an "electric" 45-minute speech at Saint Mary's Park in the Mott Haven neighborhood, Sanders trumpeted his New York roots as well as his plans for overhauling the campaign finance and criminal justice systems, raising the minimum wage, and undoing a rigged economy.
"It looks like the South Bronx is prepared to tell the billionaire class that they cannot have it all," he told an overflow crowd of about 2,000 people who were outside the official event area. "It looks like the South Bronx wants to create an economy that works for all of us, not just the 1 percent."
He drew pointed comparisons between himself and rival Hillary Clinton, the former senator from New York, who is reportedly "preparing to spend far more in New York than she originally budgeted, according to people close to the campaign, a fact that underscores how the campaign is girding for a fight and knows it needs to spend money to win."
The Sanders camp, meanwhile, "is hoping momentum from a strong showing in Wisconsin next week carries him into New York," CNN reports.
Indeed, a new poll (pdf) released Thursday showed Clinton's lead over Sanders in New York has narrowed in recent weeks.
"Anyone paying attention on the ground will tell you Bernie's momentum is real," said Bill Lipton, the New York State director for the Working Families Party, which has been organizing for Sanders.
The Observer reported on Thursday's rally:
"If we win in New York, we are going to make it to the White House," he promised as "Bernie" cheers rained down upon him. New York City, and the South Bronx, may not end up as favorable territory to Mr. Sanders, a Vermont independent, on the April 19th Democratic primary. But if the turnout at tonight’s rally is any indication, and if a large number of these people are actually registered Democrats, Mr. Sanders is going to be a real threat to Ms. Clinton in New York, the state she represented in the Senate for eight years.
The New York primary, with 247 delegates up for grabs, takes place April 19. It is a closed primary, meaning only registered Democrats can vote for Clinton or Sanders—and the registration period has closed.
But Sanders remains confident. "We are going to win New York," the Vermont senator reportedly told "CBS This Morning" on Friday.
"We're going to do rallies all over the state," he added, "and I think we have a good shot at this."
Before he heads back to Wisconsin on Friday, Sanders will join author Michelle Alexander, New York actress Rosario Dawson—who also spoke, along with filmmaker Spike Lee and Calle 13 rapper Residente, at Thursday's event—and other prominent women of color for an invite-only, town hall-style discussion in Harlem.
The discussion "will tackle a cross-section of topics, with a special emphasis on criminal justice, education, pay equity and health care," as well as "the important role women of color have and will play in this election," according to BuzzFeed, which cited a Sanders campaign spokesperson.
Alexander, a law professor at the Ohio State University and author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, is not a surrogate for Sanders, but has injected her pointed criticism into the 2016 debate.
Most notably, she wrote a scathing piece in The Nation examining the Clinton’s staying power with black voters, arguing it is undeserved.
Watch Sanders' full South Bronx speech below: