Politics and Government

Sen. Bernie Sanders brings campaign to Minnesota State Fair

A man reaches out to shake hands.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders greets a crowd of supporters as he arrives at the MPR News booth at the Minnesota State Fair on Saturday.
Caroline Yang for MPR News

Updated: 4:35 p.m. | Posted: 9:11 a.m.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders brought his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination to the Minnesota State Fair on Saturday, touting his strong showing in Minnesota in 2016, sharply criticizing President Trump and saying the rest of the 2020 Democratic candidates are only just now catching up to his policies and positions.

"One of the things that I learned is that many of the ideas I talked about four years ago, that everybody said were crazy, are now being talked about by every other Democratic candidate,” he told MPR News host Tom Crann, after being asked to compare his 2016 and 2020 candidacies. “Maybe that has something to do with leadership, I don't know. Maybe it has something to do with having the guts to say things that other people are not prepared to say."

Sanders took part in an interview with Crann at the MPR booth as a raucous crowd of hundreds of supporters and fairgoers looked on.

A man talks to a crowd.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at the MPR booth at the Minnesota State Fair on Saturday.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

Sanders said he's running in part because Trump is "the most dangerous president in American history." He called Trump a "pathological liar" and labeled him as racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic.

But Sanders said running to beat Trump is only one of his motivations for running again in 2020. He also said he wants to enact policies to counter decades of what he called “a war on working families of this country.”

“We need an economy, we need a government that represents all of us, not just wealthy campaign contributors,” he said.

Sanders soundly outpolled eventual nominee Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Minnesota DFL caucuses. On Saturday he predicted his message will again attract strong support when Minnesota changes from a caucus to presidential primary next March.

“We're not going to take anything for granted,” he told the crowd. “We're going to be back here in Minnesota where we're going to work as hard as we can to once again win this very important state.”

The interview with Sanders can be seen in the videos below, and will be broadcast on the radio at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Sanders repeated his calls for a Medicare-for-All single-payer health-care system, student debt relief, a Green New Deal, immigration reform and other changes he said would help working families.

Asked whether, at age 77, he might be too old for the presidency, Sanders replied: "Follow me on the campaign trail."

"When we look at a candidate, I hope... that the American people are going to look at the totality of that candidate. Most importantly, you're going to look at how the candidate stands on the issues relevant to working families. And I dare say there is no candidate who has a track record stronger than I do in standing up for the working class of this country."

Sanders spent most of the interview on his feet, turning to the crowd to make points as he answered questions.

His stop at the fair follows a Minnesota visit by another 2020 Democratic frontrunner, Elizabeth Warren, earlier in the week. Warren spoke to a large crowd at Macalester College on Monday and then hosted a roundtable on criminal justice on Tuesday.

And Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who's also seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, also has been at the fair this week.

The presidential primary for Minnesota is March 3. Other Democratic candidates who have stopped in Minnesota include Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind.; former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas; and Andrew Yang, a tech executive.

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