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Sanders draws crowds on a day made for his message

  • Monadnock Ledger — Ben ConantSen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks to a crowd of at least 700 people at the Peterborough, N.H., Town House on Monday.

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 9/2/2019 10:24:03 PM
Modified: 9/2/2019 10:23:59 PM

CLAREMONT — The main banquet room at the Common Man Restaurant was standing room only with more than 300 people Labor Day evening, most of whom were enthusiastic supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

Waving blue and white Bernie signs and some wearing T-shirts emblazoned with “Bernie,” the audience loudly applauded many of Sanders’ remarks that have become the core message of his campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Terry Manning, of Randolph, and an employee with the state of Vermont, backed the Senator four years ago and will again next year because she agrees with everything he is for, particularly his position on health care (Medicare for all) and free public education.

“I like how he is for the people,” said Manning, 55, moments before Sanders entered the room to loud cheers. “If they can have health care like they do in Canada, they can do it here. I also believe he not only has the education but the qualifications and those are also important.”

Belle Moulton and Brandon Hennessey, both 17 of Windsor, were enjoying some of the free Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream dished out as they waited for Sanders to arrive.

“He is willing to make drastic change,” said Moulton. “It is clear he is for the people.”

“For me,” said Hennessey, “for so long he has fought the good fight and has been on the right side of history. He has consistently fought for the middle class.”

Sanders hit on familiar themes about the struggles of the working class with many “living paycheck to paycheck,” fearful of a car breaking down or an illness, while a small percentage continue to become wealthier and wealthier.

“All over this country people are living under that anxiety,” Sanders said. “People are worried if they get sick or somebody ends up in the hospital their entire financial situation is going to be ruined.”

Sanders continued as he spoke about the lack of affordable child care, college debt, high school students choosing not to attend college for fear of spending their lives paying back $50,000 in debt and a minimum wage in New Hampshire that remains at the federal level of $7.25 an hour.

“How in God’s name does anybody live on seven and a quarter, or eight or nine or ten bucks an hour. Can’t be done,” Sanders said. “So meanwhile, while you have a working class that is struggling we have a massive and grotesque level of income inequality.”

Telling his audience, that most in the media and country aren’t talking about that inequality, he promised his campaign won’t stop talking about it.

“We have to determine what is important and where the outage is. To me it is not acceptable. And as president I will do something about it,” he said to loud applause.

According to Sanders, statistics show in the last 30 years, the wealth of the top 1% earners has risen $21 trillion while for the bottom half it has fallen $900 billion.

“So on this Labor Day, let me tell you what this campaign is about. It is creating a government and an economy that works for all people, not just the 1%,” he said.

“Power rest (not with Congress or the president) with the corporate elite whose greed and corruption has worked the last 45 years against the best interest of working families in this country. That is the reality. Here is the truth. The only way we bring change is when millions of people come together, stand up and tell this corporate elite that our great country belongs to all of us not just a handful of billionaires.”

Harry Seidel, 66, of Warner, N.H., and an independent architectural designer, said he supported Sanders in 2016 and plans to do so next year because of the Senator’s position on a living wage, health care, education and “last but not least,” climate change.

“I think he is strongest on all of them and has had a consistent message for a long time,” Seidel said.

Stay-at-home dad, Louis Cassorla, 48, of Newport, said while he would vote for Sanders if he is the party nominee, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D- Mass, is his first choice.

“She is smart and thinks things through at a deep level,” said Cassorla, hoping to get a photo of Sanders with his son, Ansel, 33 months. He also is afraid that many voters will not back Sanders simply because he describes himself as a “socialist.” “People hear that they just turn off their brains.”

When asked about “electability” of either Warren or Sanders, Cassorla scoffed.

“We elected the most horrible monster (Trump) one could find under a rock so there is no such things as electability. It means nothing. If Trump can be elected, anyone can.”

Manning, of Randolph, is confident Sanders could knock off Trump.

“I am afraid if Bernie is not on the ticket, we will end up with another four years of Trump,” she said.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.

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