“Check the receipt.” That was an overarching theme of presidential hopeful Bernie Sander’s campaign rally in Asheville Fri. The Vermont Senator highlighted his consistent political record throughout his career, in his pitch to voters for the Democratic nomination.
“In the last four years, since I last campaigned here in North Carolina, on major issue after major issue, ideas, which four years ago seemed radical and extreme, are now the ideas that the overwhelming majority of the american people support,” Sen. Sanders said.
Ideas, like legalizing marijuana, which is now legal recreationally in 10 states and the District of Columbia.
Sen. Sanders renewed his pledge for signature policies, like free tuition to public colleges and universities and a tiered corporate tax structure, so the wealthiest Americans pay a bigger share. His drew the loudest applause when he pointed out that now 70 percent of Americans support the idea of Medicare for all, also known as single-payer healthcare.
“They know there’s something absurd when we are the only major country on earth not to guarantee healthcare on earth,” Sanders said. “I live 50 miles from the canadian border, they do it. The UK does it...Don’t tell me the united states of america cannot guarantee healthcare to all people.”
Sanders’ rally at Salvage Station was his campaign’s first visit to North Carolina since announcing his candidacy for 2020. Following his stop in Asheville, he’s slated to appear at Piedmont Community College in Charlotte. He’s also scheduled rallies in South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama before returning to Vermont next week.
The event at Salvage Station had a distinctly Asheville flavor. Doors opened at 10:30, and local bands and musicians performed in the hours before Sanders’ speech, which began around 1pm under the afternoon sun. The overflow crowd meant throngs of supporters stood outside. Sanders gave a short speech to those who couldn't get inside the venue before taking to the main stage.
Bluegrass musician Dylan Morris warmed up the crowd at the with a song he wrote, called “Bernie for the USA.”
“It’s kind of a play on Springsteen’s ‘Born in the USA,’ but with kind of a a populist flavor. A little bit of local vibe with the banjo,” Morris said.
Morris volunteered for Sanders’ 2016 campaign and considers himself a superfan. He’s also part of a key demographic Senator Sanders is trying to recapture in his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, millennial voters.
“Our generation is going to have to live through climate change, all of these terrible trends we’re seeing,” Morris said. “Even though it’s counterintuitive that Bernie’s so old, we don’t care about that.”
The latest polls show Sanders’ support among younger voters is slipping. They were a propelling force behind his 2016 campaign, but the Democratic primaries are still nine months away.