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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Sanders urges Tucson crowd to ‘stand together’

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders gave a rousing speech to a packed DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center at Tucson’s Reid Park Friday night. Sanders’ message began and ended on similar note, best captured by his rallying cry, “Stand together.”

Sanders made three campaign promises during the event. First, he said if elected president, he would see that the U.S. no longer has more people in jail than any other country in the world. Second, Sanders vowed he would only nominate candidates to the Supreme Court if they promised to vote to overturn the Citizens United ruling. Third, he vowed to fight harder than any other president to end institutional racism and reform the criminal justice system.

Before Sanders began, onlooker Mercedes Smith shared her expectations for the evening. “I think he’s going to talk about defeating the billionaire class.”

Another woman in attendance hoisted a cardboard cut-out of Sanders dressed like Robin Hood, eager to hear the presidential candidate vow to lead the U.S. in the fight against the top 1 percent.

Sanders did not disappoint those in attendance, as he began the evening with some statistics on his campaign funding.

“All the political experts said that the only way you can compete is by begging millionaires and billionaires and Super PACs for money. We said no,” Sanders said.

He reported that his campaign has thus far received $650,000 in individual contributions and he shared the average individual contribution was only $30.

Next, Sanders took a moment to reflect on the two school shootings that happened on Friday at Texas Southern University and Northern Arizona University. He acknowledged the issue of gun control and said he believed in strengthening and broadening instant background checks.

Sanders was vague about other solutions to the gun control issue but he was clear about one thing. “We need a revolution in mental health delivery in this country.”

The Vermont senator then tackled immigration reform and took a stab at Republican candidate Donald Trump.

“It is not acceptable; it is not American to be defining a whole group of people that happened to come from Mexico and calling them criminals and rapists,” Sanders said over loud cheers.

Sanders called the executive order President Barack Obama took last year a good first step, but stated that “deferred action should be expanded to include the parents of citizens, parents of legal permanent residents and the parents of dreamers.”

Sanders griped about America’s high youth unemployment and full jail cells. He shared his desire to raise minimum wages to $15 per hour and get equal pay for women workers. On the subject of women, Sanders took the opportunity to attack the idea of Republican family values.

“We all know that when Republicans talk about family values, what they are talking about is their belief that women in this country should not have the right to control their own bodies,” Sanders said, “and that our gay brothers and sisters should not have the right to get married.”

Sanders also touched on guaranteeing paid family medical leave. He also talked about making college tuition free at all public universities and decreasing interest rates on student debt.

Sanders ended his speech by calling the crowd his “brothers and sisters” and thanking the onlookers with a thick New York accent.

Follow Michelle Jaquette on Twitter.

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