BERLIN, New Hampshire — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told a packed breakfast crowd at the White Mountain Chalet Caterers that the goal of his campaign was “transforming the economy and the government of the United States, so that it works for all of us and not just the one percent.”
Sanders spoke just moments after a new Gravis poll suggested that he had taken the lead in what is largely a three-way race in the Granite State, surpassing former vice president Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
New Hampshire Democratic Primary:
— Political Polls (@PpollingNumbers) August 13, 2019
Sanders’s line recalled a promise made by then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) a few days before the 2008 election, when he declared that his goal was “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”
The socialist senator from neighboring Vermont told the enthusiastic crowd that while many of his ideas would be labeled as radical, many of them were now being adopted across the country.
He cited his proposal, four years ago, to provide free tuition for community college, which he noted many cities and states were now considering. He said that now other candidates were adopting his proposal to cancel all student debt.
“If this campaign is about anything, it’s asking people to ask the simple question of why not — why can’t we do it? Why was it acceptable for the Congress — against my vote — to bail out … the crooks on Wall Street in 2008? But when it comes to young people today who are struggling … ‘Well, we can’t do that, it’s too radical.’
“What this campaign is about is asking the American people to consider: why not — why can’t we do it?” he repeated.
Likewise, he said, it should be possible for the U.S. to “guarantee health care as a human right.”
Sanders repeated a line he has used at other events, labeling President Donald Trump as a bigot: “I never, ever would have believed that we would have a president who is an overt racist, and a xenophobe, and a sexist.”
He also told supporters that his campaign was best-placed to defeat Trump, adding: “We need to transform the economics of this country and the politics of the country, and we think we are the best campaign to do that as well.”
Echoing the slogan of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, Sanders declared: “In the end, they are the one percent, and we are the 99 percent, and 99 is a lot bigger than one.”
On recent mass shootings, Sanders blamed Republican leaders for stopping gun control legislation: “You have a Republican Party intimidated by the N.R.A. — that’s it, end of discussion.” It was just one more example, he said, of a powerful, wealthy special interest group standing in the way of change.
One woman asked Sanders about the Trump administration’s recent overhaul of the Endangered Species Act. He replied: “My God, we are losing specie after specie [sic], it’s a terrible thing.”
A left-wing Jewish supporter from Vermont asked Sanders what he would do to end the Israeli “occupation.” He said that the U.S. should use its financial leverage over Israel to oppose its “racism,” though he also said Palestinian leaders were “corrupt.” He said the U.S. should “use our clout to bring people together” for peace in the region.
Asked what he would do about jobs in the private health insurance industry, Sanders acknowledged there would need to be a “transition,” and that the focus would be on training people to deliver actual health care, rather than administrative functions: “We don’t need more people sitting around a desk” evaluating insurance claims, he said.
One supporter asked why Sanders had supported Hillary Clinton after a corrupt Democratic nomination process — what he called “one of the biggest stolen elections in our political history.” Sanders said that he did not see it that way: while the superdelegate system was corrupt, he said, there was a binary choice between Clinton and Trump.
Asked why he was not “calling out” rival Democratic candidates who had borrowed his socialist ideas, Sanders said he was “proud” that his ideas had spread.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.