Bernie Sanders today bookended his second Madison visit in a week by ripping Gov. Scott Walker for “voter suppression.”
The Vermont senator, speaking to a packed 1,675-capacity Orpheum Theater, hit on all of his major campaign points and tore into his Dem primary opponent, Hillary Clinton, and GOP front-runner Donald Trump. He also made passing reference to the Marquette University Law School Poll that today showed him leading Clinton, and he predicted a victory in the Wisconsin primary Tuesday if voter turnout is high.
But he reserved his sharpest criticism, and drew the loudest boos, for Walker
Sanders called it an outrage that Wisconsin has a governor who seems to be “working overtime” to suppress the vote. And saying Walker was “subsidized by the Koch brothers,” Sanders promised to do everything he can to overturn the Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court decision.
“If you don’t have the guts to participate in free, fair and open elections,” Sanders said, “get out of politics.”
The crowd also booed at times when Sanders turned his attention to Clinton. He boasted his campaign, unlike Clinton’s, did not form a super PAC and instead has relied on more than 6 million individual campaign contributions averaging $27.
He said Clinton also received $225,000 from “Wall Street” for private speeches.
“I kind of think if you’re going to get $225,000 for a speech,” Sanders said, “it must be a brilliant speech.”
But Sanders spent much of his time discussing a string of campaign promises. Calling the nation’s economy rigged for the wealthiest, he said millions of people are working longer hours for lower wages. He estimated 58 percent of all new income goes to the top 1 percent, and he said he will change that if elected.
Sanders also called the country’s criminal justice system broken, estimating there are 2.2 million people in jail costing taxpayers $80 billion per year. He said that money would be better spent investing in job training and education.
He acknowledged his education plan, which includes free tuition at public universities, would cost a lot of money. But he argued the expense is worth it.
“It’ll be a hell of a lot cheaper, in terms of dollars and human life,” Sanders said, “than locking them up.”
Other campaign talking points today included: “demilitarizing” local police departments; defeating ISIS but avoiding a “perpetual war” in the Middle East; focusing on clean water; treating heroin and opiate addiction as a health, rather than a criminal, problem; and his opposition to trade policies. He drew a contrast with Clinton by saying she “supported virtually every one of these trade agreements,” while he voted against them.
And he said he wants to remove marijuana from the federal list of controlled substances, prompting someone in the audience to yell, “Thank you, Bernie.”
When Sanders turned his attention to Trump, the Dem said the Republican “will not become president of the United States.” As evidence for the claim, Sanders cited “almost every national poll” showing him beating Trump.
But he said even Republicans should be grimacing at a presidential race that has led to Trump and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz insulting each other’s wives.
“The American people are just flabbergasted at the nature of the Republican campaign,” he said.
At the end, though, Sanders took another swing at Walker.
“Let’s send a very strong message to Gov. Walker,” he said. “Let’s show Gov. Walker that his voter suppression efforts will not work.”