Sanders Emphasizes Trade Issues at Covelli Centre Rally

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – If anyone in the Mahoning Valley questioned Bernie Sanders’ credentials as the outsider candidate in the Democratic Party’s presidential contest, today’s rally at the Covelli Centre left no doubt.

Only one local politico — an outspoken attorney whose former days in the party’s inner circle date to the reign of the late Don Hanni – was spotted at the event.

“I’m sure there’s a few more lurking somewhere,” joked attorney Alan Kretzer.

The contrast with Hillary Clinton’s rally Saturday at M7 Technologies, where Democratic officeholders were out in force, confirmed other differences distinguishing Clinton supporters from those who back Sanders. Most obvious was the number so-called millenials who turned out to loudly cheer Sanders, quite likely the majority of the estimated 1,800 who attended the rally.

Throughout his stump speech, they cheered loudly; a few times anticipating what he was going to say next and providing the chorus.

“Do you know what the average campaign contribution to my campaign is,” Sanders asked, looking at young adults in the front rows.

“Twenty-seven dollars,” quite a few responded in unison.

Sanders recited familiar refrains to his die-hard supporters and political junkies, checking his notes a few times to make sure he didn’t leave any talking point out.

“We’re doing something radical in this campaign – telling people the truth,” he began.

The power of Wall Street, “the corporate media that talks about everything except what’s important to the working people of America,” Sanders said, and “a corrupt campaign finance system that’s undermining America. …What democracy is not about are billionaires buying elections.”

He explained what he calls the “rigged economy” in which people “are working longer hours for lower wages while almost all new wealth is going to the top 1 percent.”

The criminal justice system is broken, he continued, mass incarceration is an abomination, and the Wall Street barons whose “greed and reckless behavior brought the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression” do not get sent to prisonl while a young man who gets caught smoking pot gets a criminal record.

Then he hit his opponent’s soft spot, as revealed her loss last week in  Michigan: “disastrous trade policies that have cost this country millions of decent-paying jobs.”

Sanders noted that 300,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost in Ohio since 1994, “31% of this state’s factory jobs,” a huge toll that has “devastated Youngstown, Akron and communities across Ohio.”

“The key difference between Secretary Clinton and myself is that I voted against every one of these disastrous trade deals … and Secretary Clinton stood with the big money interests,” he said.

He cited NAFTA, passed in Bill Clinton’s administration, CAFTA, passed in 2005, and now the Trans Pacific Partnership, which Clinton said she hoped would become the “gold standard” for trade deals when she was secretary of state but announced her opposition to TPP in October.

The trade agreements not only caused massive job losses but also enabled “a race to the bottom,” Sanders said.

“These trade agreements allow employers to tell workers to accept major reductions in wages and health care benefits, and, ‘If you don’t like it, we’re going to China,’ ” he said.

Sanders proposed spending $1 trillion over five years to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, raising the money to do so by closing tax loopholes for corporations.  “In the richest country in the world, why is our infrastructure crumbling while the rich get richer?” he asked.

Turning to education, he said in today’s world students need more than a K-12 education and thus tuition should be free at public colleges and universities, prompting hundreds at the rally to chant “Bernie, Bernie, Bernie.”

Women’s health care, paid family medical leave, and the need to deal with climate change and “take on the fossil fuel industry” were ddressed. “Health care is a right for all people. …That’s why I believe in Medicare for all,” he said, prompting the loudest and most prolonged “Bernie, Bernie, Bernie” chants.

At the end of his speech, Sanders mentioned Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s front-runner for its nomination, who Sanders noted polls show he beats in head-to-head national match-ups.

The American people will never elect a president who insults people,” he said, underscoring his point by playing on Trump’s name.

“Bringing people together will always trump separateness and dividing us apart,” he said.

“Love always trumps hatred.”

Bernie’s Crowd Enthusiastic about What They Hear

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