Instead of catering to a few dozen affluent political donors, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders held fundraising events in his hometown of New York City on Friday with hundreds of supporters in attendance. Introduced at a fundraiser by actor Mark Ruffalo and activist Jerome Thompson, Sen. Sanders stood out against his competitors by getting personal onstage and cracking jokes at the expense of his GOP rivals. Sanders also publicly addressed an article published earlier this week from Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal falsely accusing his campaign proposals of costing $18 trillion.
In contrast to his GOP competitors who pander to multibillionaires, including Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers, who plan to spend nearly a billion dollars in the run-up to the 2016 election, Sanders is the only major candidate who does not have a super PAC. Instead of sucking up to wealthy donors, Sanders supports higher taxes on the rich and a tax on financial speculation.
“I don’t represent the interests of the billionaire class,” Sanders told his audience on Friday at Manhattan’s Town Hall. “I don’t want their money.”
At a separate fundraiser on Friday, Sanders went on to criticize the recent GOP debate. “In their three hour discussion, some of the most important issues facing the American people were not discussed at all. It is like a parallel universe,” Sanders said in disbelief. “I can’t understand how in a three hour debate there was virtually no discussion of the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality in America today.”
Sanders even took a jab at Rupert Murdoch after the Wall Street Journal published an article this week accusing Sanders’ proposals of costing $18 trillion. With a wry smile, Bernie told his audience, “Now I’ve been criticized by the Wall Street Journal. Can you believe it? Rupert Murdoch and his friends just don’t like some of my ideas.”
Sanders also took to Twitter on Friday asserting, “We need a movement which tells the Koch brothers and the billionaire class that they cannot continue to buy candidates and elections.”
He also tweeted, “Congress bailed out Wall St. because it was too big to fail. In my view, if a bank is too big to fail, it’s too big to exist. Break ’em up.”
Initially opposed to fundraisers, Sanders began his presidential campaign by collecting money from primarily online donors. But as more candidates continue to greedily devour obscene contributions unleashed by the Citizens United decision, Sanders has begun filling halls composed of regular people fighting improve everyone’s rights, not just the rights of the ultra-wealthy.
“These are the kind of fundraisers we do,” Bernie said to a cheering crowd. “We don’t have a small room of people who contribute a million dollars a piece.”