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With Iowa Vote Approaching, Bernie Sanders Is Gaining Steam

Headlines Politics Tribune News Service

With Iowa Vote Approaching, Bernie Sanders Is Gaining Steam

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Bernie Sanders with supporters

By Seema Mehta, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

CARROLL, Iowa — Fresh off a strong debate performance and buoyed by rising poll numbers, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders returned to Iowa with an air of vindication.

“We began this campaign some nine months ago. The media was saying, ‘Bernie Sanders, he’s an interesting guy, he has interesting ideas … but he’s a fringe candidate. … We already have the anointed candidate, the inevitable candidate,’” Sanders told hundreds of supporters gathered Tuesday afternoon at a winery here.

“Well, a lot has happened in the last nine months,” he said, “and the inevitable candidate is not quite so inevitable.”

The crowd roared in support.

Sanders, the professorial democratic socialist with an unruly cloud of white hair and wildly gesticulating arms, smiled and nodded in approval.

It’s a heady time for the independent Vermont senator. On Thursday, a Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll found Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton leading him by 2 percentage points among likely Iowa caucus-goers, well within the poll’s margin of error in the state that holds the first nominating contest in the nation in less than two weeks.

The news out of New Hampshire, which holds its primary eight days later, was even better — he has led Clinton in six of the seven polls that had been taken this year. A CNN/WMUR poll released Tuesday had him ahead, 60 percent to 33 percent.

On Sunday, in the last Democratic debate before the caucuses, Sanders aggressively confronted Clinton.

On the stump, Sanders connects with the frustrations of liberal voters who are tired of Washington politicians and establishment politics in the same way that GOP front-runner Donald Trump connects with those on the right.

Sanders rails against injustices that he says are harming working families: the economy is “rigged,” the disparities in income and wealth among Americans are “grotesque,” wages are “too damn low,” lax campaign finance rules are “undermining American democracy.”

Sanders doesn’t criticize Clinton by name, but he draws several distinctions with her, noting he did not vote for the Iraq war, has never been paid six-figure speaking fees by Goldman Sachs and does not have a super PAC supporting his bid.

“I don’t represent the billionaire class; I never have. I don’t represent corporate America; I never have,” Sanders told about 200 supporters at a barn in Fort Dodge, Iowa, on Tuesday morning. He said when he kicked off his campaign, he was told he needed a super PAC to compete but refused.

“We decided to do it the old-fashioned way — reach out to middle-class families and ask for their help,” he said, adding that he was stunned by the end result — 2.5 million individual contributions that averaged $27.

Sanders said he has spoken in front of about 40,000 Iowans. He hopes to make it to 50,000 by the Feb. 1 caucuses. Mike and Terry McCarville of Manson had seen him speak before and were committed supporters.

“There’s no difference between the Democrats and the Republicans — they’re all establishment politicians. He’s not,” said Mike McCarville, 62. “He’s not bought and paid for. That’s the biggest thing.”

©2016 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at the Paul R. Knapp Learning Center in Des Moines, Iowa. Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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7 Comments

  1. Paragryne January 21, 2016

    Sanders, if elected, will be unable to deliver on any of his promises, will be a divisive, one term, disappointing president and will effectively hand the following election to the Republicans and set progressivism back decades. I can appreciate his message, but he is just the Democrat’s less-odious Ted Cruz, who wanted someone to Primary Obama in 2012, and is doing more to damage party unity than he is doing good. He is not a Democrat but is using the Democratic infrastructure to undermine the Party, and I resent it. It is completely unrealistic to believe otherwise. Republicans are handing the Presidency to the Democrats with their disunity, and Sanders stands to give that away.

    Reply
    1. CrankyToo January 22, 2016

      Ominous thoughts, but great analysis well-stated.

      Reply
  2. itsfun January 22, 2016

    I think the rising popularity of Sanders is because the more people learn about Hillary, the less they want her.

    Reply
    1. johninPCFL January 22, 2016

      Nah – he’s like Trump, railing against the wind all the while knowing that he can’t change it.
      Congress writes the laws. He and Trump have as much chance of stopping the process as they do stopping a glacier.

      Reply
      1. CrankyToo January 22, 2016

        When it comes to stopping glaciers, I give the edge to the Greedy Old Pricks.

        Reply
    2. @HawaiianTater January 22, 2016

      This is the most accurate thing you’ve ever said. Even a blind nut finds a squirrel every once in awhile.

      Reply
      1. itsfun January 22, 2016

        How about a blind squirrel finding a nut

        Reply

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