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Hillary Clinton campaigns in Clinton, Iowa. (Photo: Brendan Hoffman / Getty)

As Sanders Slams Wall Street Elite, Clinton Ditches Iowa To Fetch Their Checks

With less than one week before nation's first votes are cast in Iowa, a key contrast remains hard to ignore

Jon Queally, staff writer

Seemingly undeterred by the consistent critique that her close ties to the financial industry are hurting her campaign, The Intercept on Tuesday reports that with less than a week until the Iowa caucus, Hillary Clinton will soon leave the hotly-contested state to attend a pair of Wall Street-sponsored fundraising events.

According to The Intercept's Zaid Jilani:

Clinton will appear in Philadelphia at a “gala” fund-raiser hosted by executives at Franklin Square Capital Partners, a $17 billion investment fund. Rocker Bon Jovi will reportedly play an acoustic set for “friends” who pledge $1,000 and hosts who bundle up to $27,000.

The Philadelphia Inquirer notes that “Franklin Square employs Ivy League-educated money managers and salespeople with experience at big Wall Street firms – plus four personal trainers and a dietitian to keep staff happy and productive amid the gym, yoga and nap rooms, Sol LeWitt art installations, and fancy cafeteria.”

Clinton will then head to New York City, where she will speak at a lunchtime “Conversations With Hillary” fund-raiser. This one is co-hosted by Matt Mallow, a senior managing director and general counsel at BlackRock, the world’s largest asset management firm. As we’ve reported before, having a conversation with Hillary is not cheap.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, Clinton's chief rival for the Democratic nomination Bernie Sanders vowed to keep the pressure on in Iowa and told supporters that their energy, and ultimate turnout, would be the key to whether or not his campaign can achieve victory in the state.

Though Sanders conceded on Tuesday that Clinton has an impressive organization in Iowa, he said that in the last couple of months his campaign has gained much ground and now has a real chance to upset the presumptive frontrunner—but only if his supporters get to their local caucus. "In my mind," Sanders told reporters during a stop Des Moines, "we will win here in Iowa if the voter turnout is high. And frankly, if the voter turnout is not high, we're going to be struggling."

Sanders' remarks came immediately after a meeting with members of the local chapter of the United Steelworkers union which disregarded their national leadership by giving the U.S. senator from Vermont their official endorsement.

Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign event at the steelworkers union hall in Des Moines, Iowa on Tuesday. (Photo: Tannen Maury/EPA)

As Steve Vonk, local president of the United Steelworkers, introduced Sanders to what was described as an "enthusiastic" crowd of union members and their families at a Bridgestone tire factory in Des Moines, he championed the candidate's authenticity and long record of supporting working people and the middle class.

"I am going to caucus for Bernie," Vonk told the crowd. "I can’t remember in my lifetime a public servant who truly cares as much about the poor, the middle class, working men and women as Bernie Sanders."

During his remarks, Sanders hit a consistent theme of his campaign as he made the connection between the struggles of working people and the destructive impacts the wealthy elite—including those on Wall Street—are having on the nation's economy.

"Brothers and sisters, what a Sanders administration is about is a very radical idea," Sanders told the crowd. "You ready for a radical idea? The idea is we are going to create an economy that works for working families, not just billionaires."

According to even mainstream political pundits like the Washington Post's Chris Cilizza, Sanders should (and likely will) continue to remind people about Clinton's strong connections to Wall Street. After interviewing the senator at length over the weekend, Cilizza concludes that a mere 71 words amount to the most effective closing argument for Sanders against the former Secretary of State.

"I do not believe that you can get huge speaking fees from Goldman Sachs," Sanders told him, "and then with a straight face tell the American people that you’re prepared to do what is necessary to take on the greed and illegal behavior on Wall Street. I don’t think people think that passes the laugh test. . . . Why do special powerful interests give you money? Are they dumb? I don’t think so."

And why is that argument so potentially devastating? In essence, Cilizza argues,

It not only casts the difference between Clinton as consummate insider and Sanders as outsider-in-chief but also effectively raises the central question at the heart of this race: Can someone who has played the game for as long and as well as Clinton possibly be able to fundamentally change that game?

Then there's the more visceral hit that bringing up Clinton's speeches gets Sanders. The idea that Clinton was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by Goldman Sachs and lots of other major corporations — here's a full-ish rundown of the $11 million Clinton earned from speeches in 2014 and the first three months of 2015 — suggests a level of access and elitism that many people will blanch at.

The contrast, Cilizza contined, "encapsulates all of his strengths and Clinton's weaknesses into a tidy package that is easily understood by almost anyone."  And in short, he concluded, Iowa Democractic voters are likely to hear a lot more about Goldman Sachs before Monday's caucauses.

Though it's also possible—given certain upcoming engagements—that Iowa voters will want to know more about other financial heavy-hitters. Ones with names like Franklin Square Capital Partners and BlackRock.

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