Taking on the keystone state.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) made three separate campaign stops throughout Pennsylvania in just over a 24 hour period. This was his first campaign related visit in the state since he declared his intentions to seek the Democratic presidential nomination for 2020.
He harped on similar messages that he first laid out in his 2016 run to very different audiences in this stop in Pennsylvania.
Last night, Sanders became the first Democratic candidate to participate in a town hall hosted by Fox News.
Held in Bethlehem, the Vermont Senator called out Trump for his policies on health insurance and cuts to Medicare, while boasting about his progressive platform and defining what Democratic socialism is.
Sanders, who ran as an outsider in 2016 against Sec. Hillary Clinton, said his policies which were viewed as radical at the time have gained momentum in the party. He believes that America is ready to take on these wide variety of issues, including Medicare for All, free public college, and raising the minimum wage, although he stressed that their campaign is facing opposition on various fronts.
“I understand that we’re taking on corporate America, we’re taking on Republicans, we’re taking on the Democratic establishment,” Sanders said. “We’re taking on the drug companies, taking on the insurance companies, taking on the military industrial complex.”
“It ain’t easy,” Sanders said. “I know that.”
He did caution the Democratic Party that if their whole primary revolves around Trump, they will be unsuccessful in one terming him.
“If we spend all of our time attacking Trump, you know what, Democrats are going to lose,” Sanders said. “Our job is to lay out a vision that makes sense to the working families of this country. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
Earlier in the day, Sanders was in another county that flipped from Obama twice to Trump in 2016 to detail healthcare specifically.
He spoke at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Luzerne County as a guest speaker at a conference held by the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals.
He lauded the work that nurses do and shared his vision of Medicare for All to the conference.
“There is no profession in healthcare more important than nursing,” Sanders said according to the Times Leader. “You’re there at the beginning; you’re there at the end; and you’re there at every day for everybody in between.”
On Sunday, Sanders held a rally just outside the University of Pittsburgh, trumpeting his progressive platform, while delivering some local related remarks.
He voiced his support for the campaign to organize Pitt graduate assistants into a labor union.
“The University of Pittsburgh is a great academic institution, but I say to them, your greatness lies not only on your research and your teaching. Your greatness lies on how you treat your employees,” Sanders said according to the Post-Gazette. “Sit down and negotiate with your workers.”
The Post-Gazette also reports that the loudest cheers from the crowd were from his comments about climate change and the need to stand up to the fossil fuel industry.
A recent Emerson and Morning Call/Muhlenberg College poll places Sanders in second place in the potential 2020 Democratic primary in Pennsylvania, only trailing former Vice President Joe Biden, who has yet to officially enter the race.
Two of the three counties that Sanders visited in this trip flipped from Obama counties twice to Trump in 2016.
Sanders pulled 44% of the vote in Pennsylvania in the 2016 primary against Clinton.
In a statement about Sanders multiple visits throughout the state, PA GOP Chair Val DiGiorgio said the 2020 Democratic Party presidential hopeful is out of step with Pennsylvania values.
“To quote our President – ‘America will never be a socialist country.’ Bernie Sanders’ plan for America is fundamentally at odds with our nation’s values and would transform us into a government-controlled authoritarian society where we lose our individual freedom and ability to pursue our own happiness,” DiGiorgio said in a release. “Bernie Sanders, his views, and his Presidential run will be rejected by Americans because, unlike Mr. Sanders, we value our freedom and the principles upon which the nation was founded.”