During his first Nevada visit since announcing his 2020 presidential run , U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders said Saturday that government under his administration would be based on economic, social, racial and environmental justice.
“I do not believe in downward mobility,” said the Vermont senator, who donned a Vegas Golden Knights hat during his roughly 45-minute speech Saturday in Henderson. “This campaign is about moving our people up, not down.”
About 2,200 people attended the rally at Morrell Park, according to his campaign.
Among his supporters was Lynn Price, a 71-year-old Henderson resident who said Sanders’ platform addresses issues she has long cared about, such as health care, education and prison reform.
“He’s been consistent his whole political life,” she said.
Sanders, who officially announced his presidential candidacy on Feb. 19, was a frequent visitor to the Las Vegas Valley when he challenged Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 2016.
He joined a growing field of contenders vying for the Democratic Party nomination to take on President Donald Trump at the polls next year. Many of those candidates have already made stops in Nevada since announcing their campaigns.
Sanders, who bills himself as a Democratic socialist, saw an immediate surge of campaign contributions after announcing his candidacy last month. Over the next 24 hours, Sanders drew $5.9 million in donations, according to his campaign.
The Vermont Independent stepped into the national spotlight in 2016 to challenge Democratic front-runner and eventual nominee Hillary Clinton. His platform of tackling wealth inequality and providing universal health care and free college tuition drew large crowds throughout his campaign. He echoed all of those talking points on Saturday.
“Justice is not served when the CEOs of major corporations make 300 times what their employees make,” he said.
His consistent support of universal health care has resonated with North Las Vegas residents and business owners Brad and Pamela Paulson.
“Free health care sounds good to me because I have multiple sclerosis,” Brad Paulson said.
North Las Vegas resident Nick Chadman, 28, said universal health care is his biggest concern, but he also supports Sanders’ stance on education.
“I don’t think kids should be broke trying to go to school, man,” he said.
Chadman supported Sanders in 2016, but voted Libertarian when Hillary Clinton received the Democratic Party’s nomination.
Sanders’ Henderson rally also drew a small crowd of Trump supporters outside the perimeter of the event.
Frank Dobbs, wearing a red Make America Great Again hat and holding a green sign in opposition of Sanders, said he worries about socialism in the United States under the Vermont senator.
“He wants to do a full takeover,” Dobbs said.
Protesters could be heard shouting things like “Build the wall!” over a megaphone and revving an engine to disrupt the speech.
Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sanders are the front-runners of the pack of Democratic candidates who want to challenge Trump in 2020, according to a recent poll released by Monmouth University. Biden, who has not yet announced his candidacy, ranks first with 28 percent, with Sanders close behind at 25 percent.
Sanders said he was going to leverage a grassroots movement to propel him to the White House next year.
“We’re going to reclaim America’s mantle in the world as being the leader in the fight for justice, domestically and internationally,” Sanders said.