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Bernie Sanders

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks to striking Kellogg's workers in downtown Battle Creek, Michigan, on December 17, 2021. (Photo: Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images)

Concerned Over Lack of 'Working-Class' Energy for Midterms, Sanders Plans 8-State Blitz

"It is rather amazing to me that we are in a situation right now, which I hope to change, where according to poll after poll, the American people look more favorably upon the Republicans in terms of economic issues than they do Democrats," said Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Julia Conley

Taking his recent call for Democrats to campaign on economic issues facing working Americans on the road, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday announced an eight-state tour for the final two weekends before the midterm elections on November 8, with the goal of energizing "young people [and] working-class people."

Starting on October 27, the Vermont independent senator will hold at least 19 events with grassroots groups MoveOn and NextGen America.

"They're going to have to respond to why they don't want to raise the minimum wage, why they want to give tax breaks to billionaires, why they want to cut Social Security. Those are the questions that I think these guys do not want to answer."

Sanders gave a frank assessment of the Democrats' current midterm strategy in an interview with The New York Times, saying, "I think they're doing rather poorly" at convincing working people who are concerned about the economy to support the party.

"It is rather amazing to me that we are in a situation right now, which I hope to change, where according to poll after poll, the American people look more favorably upon the Republicans in terms of economic issues than they do Democrats," Sanders told the Times. "That is absurd."

Sanders' tour was announced two days after the Times released new polling data showing that since September, voters have swung significantly toward Republican candidates, with a roughly three-point edge over Democrats. Just a month ago the same poll found more voters favoring Democratic candidates.

The poll also showed that voters who are most concerned about the economy and inflation—which has about a third of Americans struggling to pay their bills—are now leaning toward Republican candidates by a 2-to-1 margin.

Meanwhile, in addition to proposing a nationwide 15-week abortion ban and backing candidates who continue to spread the baseless lie that former President Donald Trump won the 2020 election, Republicans have been explicit this year about their plans to cut Medicare and Social Security benefits. This week The Washington Post reported that the GOP aims to pass an extension of their 2017 tax cut package which overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy.

Sanders told the Times that he plans to address those threats on his tour to states including Nevada, Texas, Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

"They're going to have to respond to why they don't want to raise the minimum wage, why they want to give tax breaks to billionaires, why they want to cut Social Security," the senator said. "Those are the questions that I think these guys do not want to answer. And those are the questions I'm going to be raising."

Sanders and other progressives including Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) have also called on Democrats to tout legislation that they could get passed if they gain seats in the U.S. Senate and keep control of the House, such as anti-price gouging proposals.

The upcoming tour "is about energizing our base and increasing voter turnout up and down the ballot," Sanders told the Times, adding that he is "concerned" about "the energy level for young people, working-class people."

"And I want to see what I can do about that," he said.

On Tuesday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also announced that she plans to hold a rally this coming weekend at University of California, Irvine, where Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) is up for reelection.

"Democrats need to clearly say what more we'll do to fix the economy for working people if we hold on to Congress," said progressive organizer Max Berger. "I'm glad Bernie and AOC are on the case!"


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