Hours after Hillary Clinton’s landslide victory in South Carolina, Bernie Sanders sought to build support in Minnesota by rallying voters in Rochester to caucus for him on Tuesday.
“In Minnesota, we will win if the voter turnout is higher, no doubt about that,” Sanders told hundreds of people at the Mayo Civic Center. “We will not win if the voter turnout is low.”
The senator from Vermont visited the Iron Range on Friday, and also made stops at a north Minneapolis high school and the St. Paul RiverCentre over the last month as he worked to build support in a state where the DFL establishment is firmly with Clinton.
State Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester, broke with the party and House DFL Leader Paul Thissen to endorse Sanders and introduce him at the event. She praised Sanders’ vision to expand healthcare, saying Obamacare is still too complicated and expensive.
“We will not make progress by cutting down our vision before we even start,” she said.
Sanders hit on his standard campaign messages of increasing the minimum wage to $15, instituting paid family and sick leave, expanding healthcare and Social Security, and breaking the power of Wall Street banks. He said he would tax Wall Street to make college debt-free.
“If Congress could bail out the crooks on Wall Street, then you know what, it's time for Wall Street to help the middle class,” Sanders said.
As the Democratic primaries move into more racially diverse states, where Clinton and Sanders are battling for minority voters, Sanders said his campaign is listening to African-Americans and Latinos. He voiced support for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and vowed to reduce the mass incarceration that disproportionally affects black citizens.
He said his campaign received over 4 million individual contributions and asked the audience if they knew the size of the average donation.
“Twenty-seven dollars!” people yelled.
“With such a brilliant audience, there’s no way we’re going to lose Minnesota,” Sanders said.
He concluded his message with a lengthy attack on Donald Trump, mocking his statements on climate change and immigrants.
Saying Trump was a “great scientist” who believed global warming was a hoax created by the Chinese, Sanders added, “Now I was shocked to hear that, because I thought from Trump’s perspective that it would have been a hoax created by the Mexicans or the Muslims.”
“We can do great things in America when we do not allow people like Donald Trump and some of his friends to divide us up,” Sanders said.
Afterwards, Sanders supporter Dawn Clark said she liked what he had to say about free healthcare and college, holding Wall Street accountable – and Trump.
“I’m not too fond of Trump myself, so that really spoke to me,” said Clark. “I just can’t imagine Trump being good for our country. Trump’s so divisive, and we need to stand together.”
While Clark plans to caucus for the senator, Sanders’ organizers were pleading before and after he spoke for people to do more than cheer him on at the rally. Ahead of his speech, an organizer asked how many people had signed up as volunteers to “get out the caucus.”
A smattering of hands went up.
“Not enough,” she said.