NEW YORK – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders kicked off his campaign for the New York Democratic presidential primary with a massive show of support by some 18,500 supporters at a twilight rally Thursday in the South Bronx.
The mass meeting in St. Mary’s Park sent a strong message in the home state of Hillary Clinton who began her own campaign with an afternoon speech to a reported 500 people at the State University of New York at Purchase.
"I am very proud to have been born in New York City!” #BernieInTheBronx https://t.co/w3Tu6Jl6Ib
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 31, 2016
Fresh off victories in six of the last seven primaries and caucuses, Sanders detailed what he called “very real differences” with Clinton on foreign policy, job-killing trade deals and Wall Street regulation.
“We want a government that represents all of us, not wealthy campaign contributors. We want a campaign finance system that is not corrupt. We want an economy that is not rigged. We want a criminal justice system that is not broken,” Sanders told the crowd sprawled along a grassy hillside.
He spoke beforehand to an overflow crowd which watched the speech on a jumbo television screen at a baseball diamond above the hill.
He laid out an economic agenda that includes raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, pay equity for women and creating 13 million decent-paying jobs by rebuilding roads and bridges.
To rein in Wall Street, he proposed breaking up big banks and regulating financial institutions that have showered Clinton with donations and lucrative speaking fees.
He called for universal health care and outlined a plan to take on the private insurance companies and pharmaceutical manufacturers. He favors a Medicare-for-all health plan to ensure that health care is a right for all Americans.
The crowd cheered his call for tuition-free public colleges and universities and his demand for criminal justice reform that includes ending private ownership of prisons and fixing a system that keeps more people behind bars than any other nation.
Sanders spoke after actress Rosario Dawson, film director Spike Lee and Grammy-winning rapper Residente.