With just 10 days until Illinoisans head to the polls, Sen. Bernie Sanders brought his campaign to Chicago on Saturday for a rally in Grant Park in between multiple stops in Midwestern states.
“If we’re gonna beat Trump, we need the largest voter turnout in the nation and it looks like Grant Park today,” Sanders told a crowd of more than 15,000 people spread across the lawn.
Sanders wasted no time attacking President Trump in his remarks, calling him a “pathological liar.”
“The American people do not want somebody who’s running a corrupt administration, who has apparently never read the Constitution, who is moving this country into an autocracy,” said Sanders. “In November, Trump is gonna learn that we are a Democracy ‘cause we’re going to throw him out of office.”
With the race for the Democratic nomination now winnowed down to three candidates—Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard who trails in votes and delegates at a very distant third place—Sanders told the crowd that his vision and record differ from Biden’s, which make him the better candidate to beat President Donald Trump in the general election.
“It is important to the American people, the people of Illinois, to understand the differences between us in terms of our record, in terms of our vision for the future. Joe Biden and I are friends, I’ve known him for many years. But we have different records, we have a different vision.”
Biden saw a surge at the polls on Super Tuesday, winning 10 states to Sanders’ four. Sanders however, took home the largest state of the night – California—and the pair have less than 100 delegates separating them with another 102 yet to be awarded.
The former Vice President also picked up several endorsements in Chicago after Super Tuesday, including Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Senator Dick Durbin.
Sanders however has also picked up support from local political figures in Chicago, whose City Council boasts six members of the Democratic Socialists of America. Two Chicago alderwomen—Jeanette Taylor and Susan Sadlowski Garza, spoke ahead of the Vermont Senator, along with Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Stacy Davis Gates, State Senator Robert Peters, and Congressman Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia. The Reverend Jesse Jackson also endorsed Sanders at a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Sunday.
“When I was asked who I was supporting there was not a second thought that it was going to be Senator Sanders,” said Taylor, an African American woman who once went on a hunger strike to save her neighborhood public school from closure some years before she was elected, told the crowd. “I’m with Bernie because he’s been doing this work.”
The former Vice President has seen something of a coalition of more centrist and even right-leaning candidates throw their support behind him, netting endorsements from several candidates who dropped out the week of Super Tuesday including Sen. Amy Klobuchar, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigeig, and former New York Mayor billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who has been registered as a Democrat, Independent, and Republican over the past two decades and donated millions to both Democrats and Republicans.
Where Sanders’ critics have attempted to try to paint him as a radical, his surrogates focused on his opposition being too moderate, ignoring several crises that Americans—particularly those in marginalized communities – have faced for decades that continue to worsen.
“I’m troubled by a narrative of moderation that keeps bubbling up,” Davis-Gates told the crowd. “A narrative of moderation that tells us to wait for Medicare for all, that it’s okay to have children in cages at the border, that the mass shootings of black boys on the South and West sides of Chicago is okay, that continues to continue imprison too many of our people for unfair drug laws.”
“If Dr. King believed in moderation I wouldn’t be standing on this stage right now,” the CTU Vice President continued. “Moderation is a dream killer and will have you believing that we can pay for wars and a bloated military budget but we cannot fully fund public schools.”
Sanders’ stump speech walked through many well-worn talking points his campaign has consistently leaned on throughout both the 2020 and 2016 election cycles. The Vermont Senator highlighted how his campaign is best poised to address income inequality, lack of access to affordable healthcare, structural racism and sexism, and other major issues that hit average Americans hard.
“We are tired of half the American people living paycheck to paycheck, with three people on top owning more wealth than the bottom half of society,” said Sanders. “We have the agenda that speaks to the needs of a long neglected working class. People in America should not work for starvation wages… Women should not make 80 cents on the dollar compared to men… When millions of workers want to join unions, want to get decent wages and benefits through a union, we are gonna make it easier for workers to join unions, not harder.”
Sanders said that while his campaign is about ‘beating Trump,’ it’s also about something more. “We have got to tell the corporate elite in this country they cannot have it all,” Sanders told the crowd, adding he would “take on” the “greed and corruption” of corporate interests like the pharmaceutical, banking, insurance, and fossil fuel industries along with the military and prison industrial complexes.
“We’re prepared to take on the whole damned one percent,” he added.
Sanders closed out his speech by telling his supporters to stand together around an agenda that “works for all of us.”
“I’m a United States Senator and I deal with the ruling class of this country all of the time,” he said. “The one percent, with all of their money and all of their power is one percent. If the 99 percent stand together and not let Trump divide us…if we stand together around an agenda that works for all of us, not just the people on top we can transform this country and give a decent life to every man, woman, and child.”