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In Nittany Lion territory, a young crowd roars, 'Bernie!'

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Sen. Bernie Sanders gave a lively speech that pounded his message about income inequality to a packed house Tuesday night at Pennsylvania State University.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Sen. Bernie Sanders gave a lively speech that pounded his message about income inequality to a packed house Tuesday night at Pennsylvania State University.

And he pounded his rival for not sharing transcripts of paid speeches that he said must have been "Shakespearean prose."

Thinking ahead to next week's Pennsylvania primary, Sanders spoke even as New Yorkers still were voting in that state's primary, where polls closed at 9 p.m. Hillary Clinton trounced Sanders there - but when he took the stage in Recreation Hall just after 7, he noted that it was too soon to know the night's victor. (He had about 42 percent of the vote late Tuesday.)

"We don't know who is going to be winning or losing, but you know what? We are going to do a lot better than people thought we would do," he said to roars from a mostly young audience. Penn State officials put the crowd count at 6,655.

The white-haired Vermont senator went down the list of his proposals and ideas, most of which were met with the same enthusiasm he emanated from the stage. He talked about campaign-finance reform, taxing Wall Street, raising the minimum wage, and - his most popular idea with many undergraduates - tuition-free college education.

His only attack on Clinton came when he called once again for her to release transcripts of her speeches to Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street audiences.

"For $225,000, it must be a pretty good speech. It must be an earth-shattering speech. . . . It must be a speech written in Shakespearean prose," he said to laughter and cheers.

He vowed to release all his own speech transcripts. Clinton has said she won't release hers unless the same standard is applied to all candidates running for president in both parties.

Sanders' Penn State visit was a big draw - students started lining up outside of Rec Hall as early as 7:30 a.m. Some skipped class; others came in the afternoon once they were done.

"It would be amazing to see the person who could be our next president," criminology student Katyn Thomas, 20, of Northeast Philadelphia, said as she bought a green Sanders T-shirt, one of many sold on campus Tuesday. Thomas had a friend save her a spot in line until she arrived around 2 p.m.

By 3, the line was thousands of people long, snaking through the west part of campus.

Many undergraduates said they felt Sanders, 74, was listening to their generation and paying attention to what he heard.

"I feel like Bernie cares about the interest of young people and their ideas, and a lot of people blow that off because they don't think we are wise or we don't have the knowledge," said Anthony Phillips, 20, of Haverford, who is majoring in finance. "It's not fair to just tell someone they don't know as much as someone else because they don't have as many years as someone else."

His friend Jamie Mitchell, 19, of Washington Township, chimed in: "I feel like he genuinely is one of us. I don't feel inferior to him."

As she waited in the long line, Mitchell, who is majoring in agriculture business management, told of growing up hearing the Clinton name.

"I always felt she was the person I was supposed to vote for," she said. "Bernie, I feel he's more of a person that I would want to vote for, not someone I should vote for."

Sanders' message Tuesday night played well to his audience.

"Today, youth unemployment is off the charts," he said. "Our job is to make certain that for our young people, we are going to invest in jobs and education, not jails and incarceration."

His call for criminal-justice reform impressed some students from the Philadelphia area, such as Atamosi Hagins, 19, a voice-performance major and a graduate of Masterman High School.

"I love how he talks to the disproportionate number of African Americans in jail," said Hagins, one of the black students at the rally, which was largely white. "He talks a lot about equality."

And about free tuition: Sanders said many students are coming out of colleges with tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

"Why are we punishing thousands of young people for doing exactly what we told them to do?" he said - and the crowd began chanting, "Bernie! Bernie!"

The candidate continued: "We should be rewarding people for getting an education, not punishing them."

He said the way to make free college education work is to tax "Wall Street speculation."

Sanders went on to talk about raising the minimum wage to $15, assuring equal pay for women, and investing in inner cities' infrastructure. More loud cheers went up when he spoke about decriminalizing marijuana.

Sanders ended his hour-long speech by reiterating his now-familiar call for a political revolution, saying "real change" comes from the bottom up, and encouraging listeners to vote next Tuesday in Pennsylvania's primary:

"What this political revolution is about is . . . when millions of people stand up and say, loudly and clearly, 'Enough is enough.' "

cvargas@phillynews.com

215-854-5520@InqCVargas

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