PORTLAND, Ore. -- Six-hundred people quickly snapped up free tickets to meet U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders in Portland at Powell’s Books on Thursday.

They also had to buy a copy of his new book for $27.

Many who waited to meet Sanders hoped he would take the White House.

“I think Bernie Sanders would have been personally a better choice as president-elect,” said 12-year-old Britton Hackney as he waited in line with his mom.

During the long campaign, Sanders supporters grew to feel they knew him personally. It made Thursday even more special.

“It’s like meeting an old uncle that you haven’t seen in a while. That’s how I feel. I'm excited,” said Myles Bourland.

Sanders often talked on the campaign trail about the need for free higher education, a theme that resonated with teacher Madalyn Clemence, who said she struggles with student loans.

“He really understood and was sincere and genuine, which I really appreciated,” she said.

Others found a champion who allowed them to once again believe their vote mattered.

Christy Acuna is one of them.

“I'm over 30, never voted until this year. And I think he was really inspiring politically,” said Acuna.

She was sitting along a book shelf waiting to meet Sanders. Mark Joseph sat next to her. He said he’s been politically active most his life but never voted in national elections.

“When Bernie came about was when I was finally like, 'this is now my voice,'” he said.

But it was not to be. Which is not to say Sanders is staying quiet.

Before meeting his fans, he took a moment to rip into the president-elect, focusing on his deal to save jobs in Indiana.

“He was going to slap a 35-percent tariff on any company that shut down in America and went abroad, wanted to bring their products back into the country. Well his new strategy apparently is to give tax breaks to those very same companies so that they can re-hire some of the employees they laid off,” said Sanders.

Sanders is a tireless progressive voice that spoke to many in the greater Portland area. Which is why hundreds, including Mark Joseph, were happy to wait hours for a chance to shake his hand and get a picture with him. Joseph had a special message ready for the senator.

“Thank you. That's what I want to tell him is thank you,” he said.