Bernie Sanders urges unity at Grand Rapids rally


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Bernie Sanders rallied a crowd of thousands in Grand Rapids Sunday, hoping to mobilize supporters to vote in Michigan’s upcoming presidential primary.

“This campaign is of course about a presidential election, but it’s about more than that. It’s about creating a movement,” he said. “Because let me tell you what no other presidential candidate will tell you: No president, not Bernie Sanders or anybody else, can do it alone.”

He said the only way to move forward with his progressive agenda was for people to stand together.

“Brothers and sisters, let us go forward,” he said,. “Let’s win on Tuesday, let’s win the Democratic nomination, and let’s defeat Trump, let’s transform this country!”

Sen. Sanders, of Vermont, promised to work for equality regardless of race or sexual orientation; increase wages, emphasizing payment for teachers; narrow the wealth gap; reform education, including tuition-free public college; and pass gun control legislation, noting universal background checks. He said he would work to fight climate change on a global scale. He touted election funding reform and his Medicare for All plan, which he says would guarantee health care to everyone.

Sanders also slammed President Donald Trump, calling him a “racist, sexist, homophobe, religious bigot” and arguing that he doesn’t understand the Constitution.

“We have a president who tell us he is a great genius. He knows everything about the coronavirus and even knows more about climate change. This is a president who believes climate change is a hoax. Well, we believe Donald Trump is a hoax,” Sanders said.

The rally at Calder Plaza on a sunny, warm day, also featured local campaign organizers and supporters and, notably, Rev. Jesse Jackson, who Sanders supported in a 1988 presidential bid.

“Everything that Jesse Jackson said is what this campaign is about. We are going to do everything humanly possible to wipe out all forms of discrimination in this country,” Sanders said.

Sanders is scheduled to speak in Ann Arbor around 6 p.m. He spoke in Detroit and Dearborn earlier in the last couple of days.

Earlier in a one-on-one interview with News 8 Political Reporter Rick Albin, Sanders talked about Tuesday’s big vote.

“It’s very important. We are delighted by the way that Jesse Jackson, one of the premier civil rights leaders in the modern history of this country, has come on board our campaign. He’s going to be with us here in Grand Rapids. We think we got a good shot to win and hopefully we will,” he said.

The fact is that if Sanders is to stay in this race, he will need to do very well Tuesday. Right now, polling numbers don’t seem to indicate that. 

The Michigan presidential primary is Tuesday, March 10. A few other states have primaries that day, too, but Michigan is the biggest prize with 125 delegates up for grabs.

Former Vice President Joe Biden will also make stops in Michigan ahead of the primary, stopping in Detroit and Grand Rapids Monday. Event details have not been made public. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota campaigned for Biden in Grand Rapids on Saturday.  

Biden performed strongly in the Super Tuesday primaries, though Sanders had an important win in California. Sanders also won Michigan in the 2016 presidential primary.

Michigan is sure to get plenty of attention from candidates leading up to the November general election. Trump won it narrowly in 2016 — the first Republican presidential candidate to have done so in decades. Democrats hope turning the state blue again will help clear a path to the White House.


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