Sen. Bernie Sanders Campaigns in Waterloo and Dubuque

Bernie Sanders
Senator Bernie Sanders visited Iowa (and Wisconsin) last weekend testing the waters for a presidential run.
Photos by Adam Burke

On the same weekend that a coy Hillary Clinton was eating fried steak in Indianola, across the state, in an under-the-radar red-meat stump speech that was literally a call for a “political revolution,” Senator Bernie Sanders made clear his intentions to crowds in Dubuque and Waterloo that he would run for the nation’s highest office.

In both cities, over 100 people listened as Sanders spoke for thirty minutes before taking questions in a town hall meeting format — something he said he’d done hundreds of times in Vermont.

One important question, raised in Waterloo on Sunday, Sept, 14, was from a polite woman wearing a “Bernie for President” t-shirt who asked, “Will you please run for president?”

Sanders, transparent in his intent, yet realistic about his chances, turned the tables and asked the crowd for their ideas on running in the Iowa caucuses. He noted it would be very difficult to get on the ballot and into debates as an independent candidate, but also discussed advantages and disadvantages of running as a Democrat. He later promised not to run as a spoiler, referring to the 2000 U.S. presidential race when Green Party candidate Ralph Nader supposedly siphoned votes from the Democratic ticket.

The longest-serving independent in the history of the US Senate, Sanders was both funny and razor-serious throughout the event, even prompting a question from another woman about getting depressed over the state of current affairs.

Sanders, the longest-serving independent senator, took questions at a town hall meeting in Dubuque.
Sanders, the longest-serving independent senator, took questions at a town hall meeting in Dubuque.

He outlined a platform that would address income inequality by establishing a livable wage. He referenced the Ferguson police shooting in a segment on unemployment when he cited stats of 20 percent overall youth unemployment and 33 percent black youth unemployment.

Sanders laid out an agenda for fixing the economy that would spend a $1 trillion on US infrastructure, creating millions of jobs, he said.

The Vermont senator criticized the press for ignoring last week’s Senate debate and vote on an amendment to overturn the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United versus the Federal Elections Commission (and subsequent decisions which have upheld it). The ruling opened the door for corporations and unions to donate to political campaigns and removed any limit on political campaign donations. The Senate voted 54-42 in support of the measure, (constitutional amendments need 60 votes to pass), but no Republicans were in favor of moving forward on the issue.

In Waterloo, Sanders took suggestions on whether he should run as an independent or a Democratic candidate.
In Waterloo, Sanders took suggestions on whether he should run as an independent or a Democratic candidate.

Sanders also criticized the expanding political influence of the billionaire Koch brothers (David and Charles), even reading from the 1980 platform of the Libertarian Party (David Koch was the vice-presidential candidate on that ticket with Ed Clark). Sanders said that the Koch brothers had increased their wealth by $12 billion last year, enough to fund both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama’s campaigns several times over (Romney and Obama each spent over a billion in 2012).

Read excerpts from the 1980 Libertarian Party platform.

Sanders also made stops in Wisconsin and Des Moines before heading to New Hampshire.

Next month, he’ll headline the Johnson County Dems BBQ on Oct. 5.


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