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Sanders urges solidarity against Trump’s “divisive” politics



For the Monitor
Monday, September 03, 2018

Sen. Bernie Sanders – back in New Hampshire for the first time in nearly a year – urged unity in the face of a president he called a “pathological liar” who’s trying to “divide us.”

But the independent senator from Vermont and 2016 presidential candidate didn’t make any references to a possible 2020 White House bid during his short visit to the state that holds the first primary in the presidential race.

“We have a president – and I say this with no joy in my heart – who is a pathological liar,” Sanders said as he headlined the New Hampshire AFL-CIO’s annual Labor Day breakfast.

“We have a president who for cheap political reasons is trying to divide us up,” Sanders said.

Sanders claimed that Trump is teaching people to “hate other people because they may have been born in a different country, color of their skin is different, their religion is different, their sexual orientation may be different.”

Sanders urged unity. 

“We need to stand together and we will not allow Trump or anybody else to divide us up based on color of our skin, our religion, our nationality, or our sexual orientation,” he said. “When we stand together we win. When they divide us up, they win.”

The senator has headlined the annual breakfast – held at Manchester’s St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral – for five straight years.

While he didn’t make any references to the next White House race, Sanders did highlight his progressive agenda, including his signature issues of Medicare-for-all and a $15 per hour minimum wage.

“I was in New Hampshire three years ago, coming before you and the people of this state, and I said we need to move toward a Medicare-for-all single-payer program. Seemed like a radical idea then. Oh my god, single payer, Medicare for all, radical idea,” he joked.

Then he touted that the “last poll that I saw has 70 percent of the American people supporting the Medicare-for-all single-payer program.”

He addressed increasing wages, and strengthening Social Security.

“I’m proud to tell you that legislation that I’ve offered in the Senate raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour now has 30 co-sponsors and all across this country cities and states are moving towards $15 an hour.”

The senator also pushed for more income equality, and new gun laws. 

“We come from rural states, New Hampshire and Vermont,” Sanders said. “And a lot of our people hunt and own guns. But I believe that in our states and throughout this country, the overwhelming majority of the American people support commonsense gun safety legislation.”

Sanders also repeatedly charged that the Republican majority in the Senate and House “are exactly on the wrong side of where the American people are.”

Last year Sanders headlined a progressive rally in Concord following his appearance the Labor Day breakfast. But this year, as he runs for a third term representing Vermont in the U.S. Senate, he quickly headed to his home state after the union event.

While he runs for re-election in Vermont, his son Levi is one of 11 Democrats currently running for the open congressional seat in the New Hampshire’s First District. But the elder Sanders has stayed neutral in the race and has refrained from endorsing his son since Levi Sanders announced his candidacy in late February.

But the senator did give his son a very quick shout-out near the beginning of the speech, saying “let me also thank my son Levi who is here. Levi stand up.”

After his speech, Sanders briefly shook his son’s hand as he departed the New Hampshire breakfast for two events in Vermont. The elder Sanders appearance in the Granite State comes just eight days before the state’s September 11 primary.

The trip also sparked more speculation that Sanders – who energized progressives across the country as he battled eventual Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in the 2016 campaign – is positioning himself for another White House run.

Sanders crushed Clinton in the 2016 New Hampshire primary, and many of his top Granite State supporters from that campaign were in the audience at the Labor Day breakfast.

“I think Bernie’s message is spot on – we need to come together and we’ll figure out the way to do that with whomever is leading the charge. It will take a little bit to work out but I think we’re going to be fine,” said Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky, who was legal counsel and a member of the steering committee for Sander’s campaign in New Hampshire.

Volinsky said Bernie’s New Hampshire base is ready and waiting if another presidential bid is in the cards.

“I think we have quite a crew,” Volinsky said. “And that crew is still here and I see them at these events all the time.”