On the next to last day of 2015, Bernie Sanders campaigned Wednesday through southeastern Iowa.
His packed schedule had him crisscrossing a corner of the state where precinct caucuses one month from now will kick off the presidential nominating process. A blip on the political radar when his campaign began last April 30, Sanders eight months lateris now closing in on Hillary Clinton in Iowa. He is leading in New Hampshire, where the first primary election will be held. And he has growing support in national polls, including many that show him faring better than any Democratic candidate against real estate tycoon Donald Trump and other Republican White House hopefuls.
Sanders began the day in Davenport at a meeting with editors of the Quad-City Times. He then headed to a campaign field office in Burlington, where he was greeted by the mayor and four of his predecessors. Sanders, whose own public service career began as a mayor in the 1980s, invited his counterparts to visit his hometown of Burlington, Vermont. LaterWednesday, at a middle school in Keokuk, the senator spoke to about 500 people. And as the short winter day turned to nighttime, more than 800 supporters turned out to hear Sanders speak Wednesday night at the Bridge View Center in Ottumwa.
At the last stop, he talked about health care and why he supports a Medicare-for-all system to provide better care at less cost to all Americans.
On his way into the speech, a headline in a newspaper left sitting on a table caught his eye. The story about Joseph Cyrus, a 77-year-old man from Missouri. Cyrus had turned himself in to police a few days after the robbery. He pleaded guilty on Nov. 10, according to the Springfield News-Leader. The reason he committed the crime, he told the court at his sentencing hearing, was to get access to health care in the federal prison system.
At Ottumwa and other stops during a three-day campaign swing, Sanders also called for creating millions of good-paying jobs rebuilding roads and bridges, raising the minimum wage, pay equity for women, strengthened Social Security, better health care, lower prices for prescription drugs, trade policies that benefit working families and closing tax loopholes that let profitable corporations avoid taxes. Sanders also called for a new tax on Wall Street speculation to make public colleges and universities tuition-free.
“I don’t represent corporate America. I don’t represent the billionaire class. We’re not going to have a super PAC,” Sanders said in Ottumwa. “So what the political revolution has already accomplished is that we can run a winning campaign without being dependent on big-money interests,” Sanders said, “and that is extraordinary.”