Sanders on campaign: ‘We are taking on virtually everyone’
LAS VEGAS (AP) — U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders detailed a long list of institutions Saturday that his revolution-themed presidential campaign seeks to challenge, from pharmaceutical and fossil fuel companies to wealthy political donors and members of the Republican and Democratic parties.
“We are taking on virtually everyone,” Sanders, a Democratic candidate, told a church full of supporters while campaigning in Las Vegas.
Sanders, who kept a popular political following after his 2016 primary campaign against Hillary Clinton, told the crowd their support would help topple power concentrated in corporations, the wealthy and the establishment.
“The one percent has enormous wealth and power. But you know what we’ve got? Ninety-nine percent is a hell of a lot bigger number than one percent,” Sanders said to loud cheers.
Sanders made his fourth visit this year to Nevada, the third state to cast ballots in the Democratic primary battle.
In 2016, the Vermont senator lost Nevada’s caucuses to Clinton but has maintained fierce support in the state, including those who remain upset with the outcome of the caucuses and feel the Democratic party worked to boost Clinton.
With followers seated in pews, Sanders spoke Saturday from the pulpit at Victory Missionary Baptist Church in West Las Vegas, a historic black neighborhood in the city. However, the majority of those in the audience were white.
He was introduced by supporter Dr. Cornel West, a professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard Divinity School who has joined Sanders on the campaign trail.
Sanders asked the audience to reflect on the country’s high rates of incarceration, which he said disproportionately affect black, Latino and Native American communities.
The senator said the country needs to invest in young people by creating jobs, not building jails, and needs to end the war on drugs by decriminalizing marijuana.
“I guess in Nevada, not such a radical idea today,” Sanders said to applause, referring to the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana two and a half years ago.
Sanders also called for an economy that works for everyone and criticized wealthy political donors such as Nevada casino magnate and billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a Republican.
“We need a political system that is not controlled by the Sheldon Adelsons of this world,” Sanders said.
Later Saturday afternoon, Sanders met with veterans and their family members at the Veterans Village, a nonprofit that provides housing, food, employment training and more for veterans, particularly homeless veterans.
Sanders asked questions of those in the room, including querying the veterans who had been homeless about how they managed to survive living on the streets of Las Vegas with the triple-digit summer temperatures.
Veterans described how they struggled to find places to stay cool or clean, the burdensome paperwork they have to fill out to receive health care and other benefits and the difficulty of learning about what help is available to them.
Sanders asked them their names, described programs that could help and decried systems that put roadblocks in the way of service members.
“We have a moral responsibility,” Sanders said. “If a country is worth anything, it is how we treat those people who put their lives on the line to defend us. And frankly, we have not been doing anywhere near as much as we should.”