COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa – “I am getting a very good feeling about Iowa,” Bernie Sanders bellowed to a roaring crowd of 1,800 supporters packing an arena at the Iowa Western Community College on Tuesday.
Midway through the senator’s remarks, the crowd began to chant “not for sale, not for sale,” a rallying cry for Sanders’ people-powered presidential campaign and a rebuke to politicians bankrolled by millionaires and billionaires.
Sanders’ grassroots campaign has been propelled by a record 2.3 million donations averaging less than $30 each. Hillary Clinton’s campaign on Tuesday tried to cash in on Sanders’ success by making the unlikely claim that Sanders might raise more campaign cash than her. “Probably not,” a Sanders’ spokesman said, “but what is certain is that they will have more total money because they have established super PACs.”
Sanders has rejected super PACs, which may accept unlimited sums and are the key part of a corrupt political system that props up a rigged economy.
Addressing the crowd here in Pottawattamie County, Sanders welcomed the “fantastic” turnout three days before Christmas and 41 days before the Iowa precinct caucuses. All told, more than 31,000 people have filled school gyms, convention centers, churches and other venues for rallies and town meetings. “So keep it a secret. Don’t tell anyone, but I think we’re going to win here and make history,” Sanders said.
Earlier Tuesday at a town meeting in Storm Lake, Iowa, Sanders brought up an exchange during last weekend’s Democratic debate when David Muir of ABC News asked the former secretary of state, “Should corporate America love Hillary Clinton?” Quipped Clinton, “Everybody should.” In Iowa on Monday, Sanders was blunt. “I do not want to be liked by everybody. I want to be liked and supported by the middle class and working families because I am going to take on Wall Street and the billionaire class. They do not like me today. They will like me even less if I am elected president. I welcome their dislike.”
The rallies and town meetings on Sanders’ latest swing through Iowa came on the heels of a new CBS News Battleground tracker poll released on Sunday which found that Hillary Clinton is leading Sanders by only five points here in a state where pundits once deemed her the prohibitive favorite. He was 14 points ahead in New Hampshire.
This Iowa swing came in the wake of major developments in the Sanders campaign. Last Thursday he won the endorsement of the 700,000-member-strong Communications Workers of America. The same day he won the backing of the progressive grassroots group Democracy for America. Sanders was favored by 88 percent of those participating in an online poll.
Sanders will wrap up this trip to Iowa on Wednesday but return next week.