Today Bernie Sanders hosted a rally in Fairfield, Iowa at the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center at 200 N. Main Street. He held town meetings earlier today in Muscatine and in Burlington. Yesterday he held multiple events, including a rally in Davenport. His rally was packed, like so many of his events, but he still maintained a focus on the importance of each individual. During his speech, he got personal and talked about his father’s death, and also announced a historic resolution he helped pass in Congress to finally take back Congress’ ability to declare war, not the President. He went off script several times, personalizing his speech for his attendees. Read on to learn more about what happened at Bernie’s rally today.
The Venue Was Packed & Some Visitors Were Sent to an Overflow Room
The turnout for the Fairfield rally was so large that they were at max capacity and had to move some people to overflow space, shared Daniel Clark, who volunteered at the event today. Clark is running as a Democratic progressive for the U.S. House 2nd District of Iowa in 2020.
Clark told Heavy that he was a door counter and counted 539 people today, not including volunteers. Thirty minutes before doors opened in Fairfield, there was already a line of people to the street, Clark shared:
Clark shared a number of photos with Heavy from the event, which you will see in this story.
Bernie Told One Participant: ‘I Love You too’
When Bernie took the stage, he immediately commented on the crowd. “Woah!!! Thank you Fairfield. Well we’ve squeezed a lot of people into this room. … I love this state and whether you like it or not you’re going to see a lot of me in the next few months.” The crowd cheered.
At the beginning of his speech, one attendee shouted: “I love you Bernie!” and Bernie shouted back, “I love you too.”
Bernie gave a special thanks to Nina Turner. “Nina has been running all over this country, doing the most important work anybody can do. She’s been getting people involved in the political process to retake our democracy.”
He Brought a Rural Policy Expert on Stage, Breaking from His Script
Before he began his speech, Bernie took a moment to go off script.
All over this country, rural communities are really hurting. We’re seeing family farmers go out of business… Schools shut down or consolidate… Fewer and fewer processes controlling one sector of agriculture… Now we’re seeing people from outside the United States buying more and more agricultural property in this country… I happen to believe that the rural way of life is a good way of life. There’s something to be said about knowing everyone in town. … We can have good rural health care. We can and must have broadband in every community in this country. … But this issue of the decline of rural America is a crisis that we have got to deal with. And I promise you that during this campaign we … we are going to develop a policy and a set of programs… There’s no magical issue, but this is an issue we have to deal with…”
Breaking from tradition, he brought on an agricultural expert to take the podium and talk about his experiences with agricultural policy. Bernie shared that he didn’t ask Dr. John Ickerd to speak until just about eight minutes before he came onto the stage, and he wants to use experts like John to develop policies to help rural America.
John said that he saw some farmers committing suicide as they faced the loss of their farms and biological and chemical waste. He said there was an economic colonization of rural areas as outside investors come and take over, polluting areas.
“It takes people not just production and profits to support rural communities,” John said. “It takes people to buy shoes and clothes and haircuts. … We must have a fundamental change in policy that restores local control … [policies] that support that farming is not just a business but a way of life… I believe that Bernie Sanders has that commitment … that is our best hope for … fundamentally restoring the integrity…to our rural areas.”
“We’re going to stop the decline of rural America and we’re going to work together to do that,” Sanders said.
Bernie’s humor is getting better and better in his rallies too, as he lets his more playful side shine through in his speeches.
“I also want to say hello to President Trump … A couple of days ago, Donald Trump, who is clearly a stable genius because he has told us that and he never lies… After years and years of deep scientific research, Donald Trump uniquely on this planet, has concluded that wind turbines cause cancer. This is really significant… Here I was in Washington planning a trip and I said, ‘Do I want to come to a state where 35 percent of your electricity comes from wind turbines?’ My staff and I are going to come down with cancer…but we are brave souls and here we are.”
He Stopped His Speech to Help a Supporter
Near the beginning, Bernie stopped his speech to help a supporter who started feeling faint while standing behind him. You can learn more about that moment in Heavy’s story here.
Bernie Talked About Teaming Up with a Republican to Take Back Congress’ Power to Declare War
Then Bernie spoke about his Yemen bill to stop war and the widespread famine in Yemen.
“All of this is a result of the Saudi-led intervention in the civil war in Yemen. So our view was that instead of bombs for the people of Yemen, we need humanitarian aid for the people of Yemen…”
But there’s more to the bill, he added.
For the first time in 40 years, the War Powers Act was used to get troops out of war that was unauthorized and unconstitutional…. The Consitution is pretty clear that Congress, not the President, has the power to put American troops into harm’s way. But the truth is that under Democratic and Republican administrations, for a long long time, that Congressional responsibility has been abdicated. And this vote in the House and Senate is the first time in the modern history of this country that Congress is reclaiming its constitutional responsibility, and that is a big deal. …
He said the ball is now in Trump’s court.
“We passed it in the Senate and the House and now it’s on the President’s desk… Trump has talked about his aversion to never-ending wars and he’s right. I really hope the President does not veto this legislation.”
Bernie said he worked with Mike Lee, a Republican, to pass the bill in the House and the Senate.
He Touched on Many Parts of His Platform, with a Local Focus
Bernie said during his speech, “The principles of our government will be based on a very, very old principle which literally goes back to the Bible, throughout human history, and that is justice. … I’m talking about economic justice, social justice, I’m talking about racial justice, and I am talking about environmental justice.”
This means that people in Iowa shouldn’t have to smell manure 24 hours a day, he added, making the speech locally focused.
And then Bernie talked about no longer accepting the greed of Wall Street or the billionaire class, but taking power back from special interests.
Bernie said that people shouldn’t have to work two to three jobs just to survive. He said in Burlington, someone said he worked at McDonald’s for $9/hour. In fact, Americans are stressed because half of them are living paycheck-to-paycheck.
“Millions of Americans are scared that their care might break down… If they can’t get to work they’ll get fired and they can’t care for their kids. People are living under incredible stress… We can do a hell of a lot better.”
He Even Addressed Hillary Clinton’s Superdelegate Count from 2016
He talked about creating an economy so our children and grandchildren can move up in their standard of living, not down. But we also must end the corrupt political system.
“I can’t use any other word, it is a corrupt system.”
He talked about moving to public funding of elections. “I don’t care what your political views are… You have a right to run for office without being beholden to wealthy campaign contributors.”
He added that anyone who isn’t prepared to engage in a fair campaign should “get the hell out of politics.” He added, “Take your ideas to the people … but don’t make it harder for people to vote because they may vote against you.”
And of course, when people chanted Bernie, he said: “No, no. It’s not Bernie, it’s you.”
Bernie even tackled superdelegates.
Before the first vote was cast in the Iowa caucuses, Sec. Clinton had 500 superdelegates lined up behind her. The idea of ending the power of superdelegates at the Democratic Convention — much, much too radical. Well my friends, a funny thing happened in Iowa over the course of the that year…”
He Got Personal & Talked About His Father’s Death
Bernie talked about how the tobacco industry used to try to claim that smoking was safe, just like people are trying to claim that climate change is a hoax, and their job is to take on the fossil fuel industry, not just Trump.
“I am older than most of you and I can remember the TV ads from the tobacco industry … when you had doctors getting on television and smoking a cigarette… The tobacco industry actually knew that cigarettes caused cancer…”
Then he got personal.
My father died at the age of 59. He smoked two packs a day. Millions of people died in this country and are still dying…because of the lies of the tobacco industry. It is exactly the same situation with regards to the fossil fuel industry and climate change.”
Near the end of his speech, Sanders pledged that no matter who wins the Democratic primary, everyone should come together to defeat Donald Trump. He also pledged not to do any personal attacks against any other Democratic candidate.
A Summary of Bernie’s Rallies
If you missed the rally in Fairfield, you can watch it in the video below:
Earlier today when Bernie spoke at a town hall in Burlington, he was greeted by a packed venue:
If you missed Bernie’s town meeting in Muscatine earlier, you can watch it here:
During the Muscatine town meeting, Bernie was asked if people in prison should vote, Des Moines Register shared. Only Vermont and Maine currently allow people with felonies to vote. Bernie said: “In my state, what we do is separate. You’re paying a price, you committed a crime, you’re in jail. That’s bad. But you’re still living in American society and you have a right to vote. I believe in that, yes, I do.”
About 230 people attended the Muscatine event.
During the town hall, Alexis Huscko of Muscatine shared her personal story of battling mental health issues. She later posted on Facebook: “I can’t even begin to describe how it feels to share my story of trauma and turn that into a piece of power. We can do more for our people. We can do more for each other.”
What’s the difference between a town meeting and a rally, since Sanders has hosted both this week? Bill Neidhardt, who works for the campaign, told The Fairfield Ledger that a town hall or meeting is when the audience gets to ask the candidate questions, while a rally is an event meant to build enthusiasm. He said, “We do rallies in places where we want to show enthusiasm, build a movement and thank our supporters. This is where we turn it up to 11.”
After today, Bernie Sanders has two more events in Iowa:
- Town meeting in Oskaloosa on Sunday at 12 p.m. at Musco Technology Center
- Town meeting in Malcolm on Sunday at 3 p.m. at 212 Main St.
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