(Host) Vermont Congressman Bernard Sanders kicked off his campaign for a seventh term Monday with a rally at the Burlington community boathouse. The Vermont independent urged voters to rise above the politics of cynicism and work to change the political system.
VPR’s John Dillon reports.
(Dillon) Former Governor Philip Hoff led off a parade of supporters who endorsed Sanders’candidacy. Hoff had high words of praise for Vermont’s lone congressman:
(Hoff) “I don’t know of anybody, I mean I don’t know of anybody who has worked harder and stood more for social justice and economic justice than Bernie Sanders. In that sense he hasn’t changed a bit. He does wear a coat and tie now.”
(Dillon) Sanders was dressed like a veteran Congressman. But his campaign speech was peppered with attacks on his colleagues in Washington. The independent chided Republicans and Democrats for only lately discussing the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs. He lambasted a free trade policy that he says has led to a spiraling trade deficit and the export of jobs overseas. And Sanders says politicians of both parties are controlled by the wealthy who contribute to their campaigns:
(Sanders) “So the CEOs of the big corporations and the richest people in the world support their candidates and then their candidates go to D.C. and they pass legislation which benefit people on the top. Now I may be very radical and very out of step with what’s happening in Washington. But I have an old fashioned idea that the Congress may want to represent the middle class and the working families of this country rather than just the rich and the powerful.” (Sound of crowd applause.)
(Dillon) The speech was vintage Sanders. The issues Â¿ health care, higher minimum wage, the environment and farm policy Â¿ are those he has emphasized since his first days in office.
Sanders also says he hopes this campaign will energize voters and help them overcome their cynicism about the political process:
(Sanders) “My hope is that in this campaign thousands of Vermonters will be knocking on doors and talking to their neighbors and coworkers about the need to make government work for all of the people. My hope is that in this campaign we can revitalize American democracy and create a government in Washington that represents everybody and not just the very wealthy.” (Sound of crowd applause.)
(Dillon) Three Republicans will face off in a primary for the right to challenge Sanders in November. The Democrats have not put forward a candidate.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Burlington.