Bernie Sanders branded Donald Trump as ‘the most dangerous President in modern American history’ at the first rally of his 2020 Presidential campaign.
The self described Democratic socialist said that his campaign would not be built on ‘racism, sexism and xenophobia’ like that of the President.
Sanders contrasted his working class roots with Trump’s privileged upbringing and said that while he got a 25 cents a week allowance the President was paid $200,000 a year at the age of three.
Bernie Sanders, 77, held the first rally of his 2020 presidential campaign at Brooklyn College in New York City Saturday. He grew up a short distance away from the rally’s location in a working class family
While Sanders spent his 20s protesting about housing segregation Trump learned to ‘build a corporate empire through housing discrimination’, he said.
The rally took place Saturday in the freezing, snow-covered quad of Brooklyn College in New York, a short distance from where Sanders, 77, grew up.
The focus on his personal story was a shift from his failed 2016 Presidential campaign, where he lost the Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton.
But, as far as policy went, it was the same Bernie Sanders as before: make the rich pay more tax, free higher education, a $15 an hour minimum wage and Medicare for all.
Sanders, who is running for the Democratic ticket, was cheered on by crowd of around 2,000 people, mostly made up of young hipsters.
Sanders’ reveal of his personal story was a shift from his failed 2016 Presidential campaign, which focused more on policies
About 2,000 people showed up at the college campus to support Sanders despite freezing weather Saturday
When Sanders talked policies, however, they were the same as before as he continued to advocate for making the rich pay more taxes, establishing free higher education, a $15 an hour minimum wage across the country and Medicare for all
Sanders also stated that his campaign would not be based on ‘racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia and religious bigotry’ and that it would make clear ‘that the underlying principles of our government will not be greed, hatred and lies’
He said: ‘I want to welcome you to a campaign which says loudly and clearly that the underlying principles of our government will not be greed, hatred and lies.
‘It will not be racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia and religious bigotry.
‘It will not be tax breaks for billions and efforts to throw millions off the healthcare that they currently have. This campaign is going to end all of that’.
Sanders, an independent Senator from Vermont, told the crowd that he grew up in a rent-controlled apartment in Flatbush, an African American neighborhood of Brooklyn a few miles away.
He was the son of Jewish immigrants from Poland and said that he never forgot the lack of money was always a ‘point of stress’ on his family.
With emotion in his voice Sanders said: ‘My experience as a child living in a family that struggled economically powerfully influenced my life and my values. I know where I came from, and that is something I will never forget’.
Sanders went on: ‘Unlike Donald Trump who shut down the government and left 800,000 federal employees to pay their bills, I know what it’s like to be in a family that lives paycheck to paycheck.
‘I did not have a father who gave me millions of dollars to build luxury skyscrapers, casinos and country clubs.
‘I did not come from a family who gave me a $200,000 allowance every year beginning at the age of three. If I recall my allowance was 25 cents a week.
‘I did not come from a family of privilege that prepared me to entertain people on television by telling workers: ‘You’re fired’. I came from a family who knew all too well the frightening power employers can have over everyday workers.
Sanders contrasted his working class upbringing with Trump’s childhood, pointing out that unlike Trump, Sanders ‘did not come from a family who gave me a $200,000 allowance every year’ starting at age three, instead he got 25 cents a week
Sanders also noted that unlike Trump’s family which has been accused of housing discrimination, Sanders protested housing discrimination and was actually arrested for protesting school segregation
As Sanders spoke the crowd chanted ‘1,2,3, screw the bourgeoisie’ and ‘Green New Deal!’ referring to the Democratic plan to tackle climate change, while holding signs that stated ‘From Palestine to Mexico, walls have got to go’
‘I did not come from a family that taught me to build a corporate empire through housing discrimination. I protested housing discrimination, was arrested for protesting school segregation and one of the proudest days of my life was attending the March on Washington with Dr Martin Luther King Jr’.
The rally at Brooklyn College has special significance for Sanders as he attended the institution before switching to the University of Chicago where he graduated with a degree in political science.
As he spoke the crowd chanted ‘1,2,3, screw the bourgeoisie’ and ‘Green New Deal!’ referring to the Democratic plan to tackle climate change.
They also held up signs saying: ‘Overthrow capitalism’ and ‘From Palestine to Mexico, walls have got to go’
The crowd cheered as Sanders laid out his policy platform and said he is still pushing for $15 an hour minimum wage even though some states like New York and some companies like Amazon have adopted it already.
Sanders drew huge cheers when he said he wanted free colleges and universities and ‘comprehensive immigration reform’.
That includes a path to citizenship for the 1.6 million young people on the DACA program who came to the US illegally when they were children.
Sanders said that unlike Trump he did not believe that climate change was a ‘hoax’ and said that we have a ‘moral responsibility’ to look after the planet.
He said that on abortion it should be a woman’s right to choose, not something that is decided by the state or federal government, and that drug prices would come down under his Presidency.
Sanders’ shift in tone comes after he made numerous staffing changes following his 2016 Presidential bid amid allegations it was too full of ‘Bernie Bros’, or too white and too male.
They include hiring a young progressive Muslim activist to take a lead role and women and minorities in five senior roles so far.
Sanders’ campaign HQ has shifted from Vermont to Washington too as they seek to become more professional.
The changes were partly brought in because staff on the 2016 campaign recently alleged that they had been sexually harassed and paid less than their male counterparts.