Sen. Bernie Sanders delivers a final pitch to voters before Monday’s caucuses at a rally at Grand View University. (Photo: Khue Bui for Yahoo News)
DES MOINES, Iowa — With less than 24 hours before the caucuses, Sen. Bernie Sanders reminded the 1,700 supporters who gathered for a final rally that their state had recently elected another long-shot candidate who no one thought had a chance.
“Eight years ago a young United States senator came here to campaign,” Sanders said at the rally in Grand View University’s basketball court. “What people were saying is, Iowa is a virtually all-white state and this black guy doesn’t have a chance. But what the people of Iowa did is say, ‘Hey, we’re going to judge this guy not by the color of his skin but by his ideas and character.’ And you allowed Barack Obama to win the caucus.”
The crowd erupted into cheers as they recalled the last time Hillary Clinton was dealt a crushing and unexpected defeat in the state. That kind of upset is within reach for the democratic socialist. The latest Des Moines Register poll shows Clinton leading Sanders by just 3 percent ahead of Monday night’s caucuses.
At the end of his nearly hourlong speech, Sanders summarized his platform of universal health care, free college tuition, paid maternity leave, transforming the energy system to reduce carbon emissions, and the “defeat” of institutional racism.
“Are those utopian ideas, are those pie-in-the-sky ideas? They’re not. They’re ideas that the vast majority of the American people support,” Sanders said. “But unfortunately, the people with the money and the people with the power do not support those ideas.” The crowd — many of them in Bernie T-shirts — loudly booed.
Sanders said his campaign is about more than electing him president. “It is us coming together as a people to tell the billionaire class they cannot and will not have it all,” he said.
As he walked off the stage, the senator was mobbed by supporters trying to take a selfie with him. “Oh, my God, I shook his hand!” screamed Taylor Suntaen, 16. She had come to the rally with her mother, Dana, who became a Sanders supporter after she took a Facebook quiz that matched her political beliefs with his. She later saw him speak in Iowa and was hooked.
“This could change the whole course of the election,” Suntaen said of tomorrow’s caucuses. “It’s cool we have a candidate we can feel excited for.”
Photo: Khue Bui for Yahoo News