Bernie Sanders is already setting his sights on President Donald Trump by becoming the first Democratic presidential hopeful to visit all three “blue wall” states that decided the last election and will likely be pivotal again in 2020.
During weekend rallies in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — states that won Trump the White House by a total of less than 80,000 votes — Sanders repeatedly painted the president as a “liar” who swindled working class Americans when he promised to fight for them.
“The biggest lie he told was that he was going to stand up for working families and take on the establishment. That was a monstrous lie,” Sanders said Sunday in Pittsburgh, accusing the president of breaking promises to fight for universal health care, oppose cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, tax the wealthy and reduce the trade deficit.
Visiting the Rust Belt this early is a show of power for Sanders, putting his 17 Democratic rivals on notice that he has the money, name recognition and front-runner status to look past the initial primary states. Michigan doesn’t vote until mid-March, while Wisconsin and Pennsylvania vote in April. Sanders, who enjoys a cult-like base of support built during his 2016 run for the nomination, trails in polls only to former Vice President Joe Biden, who isn’t yet a candidate.
“Donald Trump campaigned as fake Bernie Sanders. And the way to beat him is with real Bernie Sanders,” Faiz Shakir, Sanders’ campaign manager, said in an interview.
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