IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) — Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders returned to eastern Iowa for the first time since announcing a run for the 2020 Presidential election.
Sanders three-day stop in Iowa comes two and a half weeks after he announced he would run again after an unsuccessful attempt to become the Democratic Presidential nominee in 2016 against Hillary Clinton.
This time, Sanders, who was relatively unknown at the beginning of his first campaign, returns to Iowa emerging as a Democratic frontrunner.
Now, Sanders will have to distinguish himself from a crowded pack of candidates. The same issues Sanders touted in 2016, once considered radical or ambitious, are now common among the other candidates.
On Friday, an enthusiastic crowd in Iowa City welcomed Sanders to the stage. The state of Iowa, Sanders said, is where it all began for his movement.
“In 2016, this is where the political revolution began. Thank you Iowa,” Sanders said to the crowd.
Sanders acknowledged that a lot had changed since his first run.
“Those ideas that we talked about here in Iowa four years that were too radical,” he said. “Well, today virtually all of those ideas are supported by the American people.”
The crowd cheered the senator on when he advocated for Medicaid-for-all.
“We say to the private medical industry, whether you like it or not, the United States will join every country in guaranteeing health care for all
Sanders also said he would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
“It is not a radical idea, that a person that works 40 hours a week, that person should not be living in poverty,” he said.
During his speech, Sanders outlined a number of policy positions. He spoke about rebuilding infrastructure, passing immigration reform, cutting military funding and making college tuition free.
“You should not have to mortgage your future for the crime of getting a college education,” Sanders said.
The crowd was made up largely of college students, a demographic that Sanders said he had more support from than Clinton and Trump combined.
University of Iowa student Grace Cannell said she came because she was undecided and wanted to hear Sanders’ ideas for herself. She said mental health and support for public education were among her top priorities. As was, affordable tuition.
“I don’t know necessarily if we can make it free. That doesn’t sound something that I’m completely on-board with but definitely lowering the cost for students and making it easier for us to pay for it,” Cannell said.
Another undecided voter, Jim Glasson, said he was giving Sanders a chance for the first time.
“I supported Hillary Clinton. I think she was a good candidate. I thought Bernie had no chance to be electing because he is a democratic socialist,” Glasson said. “That’s still a question in my mind but when I heard him speak in the Democratic National Convention I thought, ‘oh my god this is a good guy. This is a good man. He’s well spoken.’ So, I’m here to see what he has to say.”
Sanders repeatedly said he be the candidate to support the working people and spoke against the 1-percent.
A notable turn in Sanders Iowa campaign was the amount of time he dedicated to talking about agricultural and rural needs.
He pledged to restore the “well-being” of rural communities by supporting the pork industry and fighting for family farms over coorporative farming, which Sanders said he believes receives too much federal support.
On Saturday, Sanders continues his three-day trip to Iowa with a stop in Des Moines. There, he’ll hold a rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.