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Sen. Bernie Sanders Stumps in Keokuk

Jason Parrott
One of the signs outside U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders campaign event at the Keokuk Middle School

People were already standing in line when the doors to Keokuk Middle School opened at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday. They were there an hour early to get a good seat to hear U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders talk about a "political revolution."

"What that says at the end of the day is that we need to have a government that represents all of us, not just a handful of billionaires," said Sanders as he spoke to a standing room only crowd of 500 in the KMS cafeteria.

  "I would not have run for the President of the United States unless in my heart of hearts, I did not believe that the times, the crises we face as a nation today are so extraordinary that establishment politics and establishment economics are just not enough. Given the reality of the United States and the world, today, given the incredible power that rests in the hands of the few, it is absolutely essential not only for us, but for our children and our parents, to fight for a political revolution."

Credit Jason Parrott / TSPR
Sanders spoke to a crowd of 500 at the Keokuk Middle School

  Sanders said he believes the reason he is trailing in the polls is because of name recognition when compared to Hillary Clinton, who was a former first lady, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State. He said as he has gotten his name out, and more importantly, his message out, his numbers have skyrocketed.

Sanders said, as he has traveled the state and spoken with more than 30,000 residents, that he needs people to unite against the major interests controlling the country. He said he not only needs people to come out on caucus night and the general election, but when he is elected President, he needs the people to step up day 1.

"The people who control our country: corporate America, Wall Street, corporate media, large campaign donors; are so powerful that the only way we can effectively take them on is when millions of people stand up and get engaged in the political process in a way we have not seen for a very long time," said Sanders.

Sanders used a 60 minute speech and a 30-minute question and answer session to cover a wide range of topics including:

  • Invest $1-trillion over five years on a federal infrastructure program
  • Increase the minimum wage to $15.00/hour
  • Reverse federal trade policies
  • Free tuition for public colleges and universities
  • Three months paid leave for new parents
  • Reverse Citizens United

Sanders even had an opportunity, while in Keokuk, to weigh in on an issue that's significant locally and nationally. He was asked about the proposed Dakota Access pipeline that would run from North Dakota, through Iowa, to Illinois.
Sanders said he opposed the use of eminent domain for the project.

"#2, the immediate goal as I mentioned a moment ago in terms of energy is we have to break our dependency on fossil fuel, not encourage the excavation or transportation of more fossil fuel, so I am opposed to the Bakken pipeline in general."

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.