Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday night returned to Iowa — and the fiery form that characterized his last presidential bid — at his first campaign event since a pair of homecoming rallies last weekend in Brooklyn and Chicago.
“Iowa, you helped begin the ‘political revolution’ in 2016,” Sanders said in Council Bluffs, “and with your help in this campaign, we are going to complete what we started here.”
His three-stop tour of the state, where he came within a whisker of upsetting Hillary Clinton in 2016, will continue Friday in Iowa City before turning back and wrapping up in Des Moines, at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, on Saturday morning.
Sanders has kept in close touch with the first-in-the-nation caucus state since 2016, making appearances in 2017 and most recently, stumping for Democratic candidates a few weeks before the 2018 midterm elections.
Though his 2020 campaign is still in its early stages, Sanders made his Iowa debut this time amid heightened expectations and, perhaps, a more daunting challenge: to distinguish himself in an expansive field of candidates whose messages can bear a striking resemblance to those he preached the last time out — a task that will require both solidifying his devoted base and making inroads where he couldn’t in 2016.
As he did last weekend, Sanders pushed his ambitious agenda, including the expansion of health care to every American, the creation of a universal pre-K system and a hike in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. But the Sanders of 2019 also made a point of touting the gains of the past four years.
“When I first came here to campaign in 2015, the truth is that not a whole lot of people knew who the junior senator from Vermont was,” he said. “At that time nobody took our campaign seriously, and we began that campaign at 3% in the polls — and I thank those 3%. Further, the ideas, the agenda, that we were talking about at that time four years ago was considered by establishment politicians and mainstream media to be ‘radical’ and ‘extreme’ — remember that?”
You can read the transcript of the full speech here.
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