Jewish Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders made his first campaign stop in Atlanta for a fundraiser Friday, Sept. 11, that drew a packed crowd of supporters to 200 Peachtree St. downtown.
The Vermont senator, already leading in Democratic polls in nearby New Hampshire, made news days before the Atlanta event by surpassing front-runner Hillary Clinton in polls in Iowa for the first time. Kids, grandparents and young adults alike gathered in the standing-only space to see Senator Sanders. As soon as the clock hit 6 p.m., screaming and chants of “Bernie” erupted from the crowd. The senator soon took the stage, taking in the packed room and remarking simply, “It is hot. And it is loud.” The crowd roared.
His speech stuck to the rally cry of his campaign: income inequality. “I don’t represent corporate America. I don’t represent the billionaire class,” said Sanders, elected to the Senate as a Socialist. He addressed a variety of reforms, including the cost of college tuition and racial inequality in the criminal justice system — a notable issue after Black Lives Matter demonstrators confronted him for skirting the issue at past rallies.
“There is a profound disgust in a system that allows billionaires to buy elections,” Sanders said. He then addressed the billionaires directly: “You will not continue to get huge tax breaks when children in this country go hungry.”
With a focus on middle-class support, the fundraiser was open to donors of as little as $50, compared with the thousands of dollars charged for similar events held by Clinton and Republican Jeb Bush.