U.S. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at the Louisiana Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner on July 25.
Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley sent Louisiana-centric video messages to the Louisiana Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner on July 25. O'Malley mentioned the recent deadly shooting in Lafayette as he looked into the camera saying "our nation has a sickness," calling for stronger comprehensive gun safety regulations. Clinton celebrated former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who was honored at the event with a lifetime achievement award.
Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, however, was there in person, kicking off a weekend in Louisiana
after a trip to Baton Rouge the same night
amid visits to "conservative" states including upcoming trips to Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina. Sanders has proved popular on the trail and is seen as an alternative to frontrunner Clinton who voters don't see as progressive enough; Sanders aims at Wall Street, income inequality and the 1 percent. As bussers and servers in starched white shirts and black vests whizzed by carrying trays on their shoulders, Sanders — gesturing frequently with his right arm — spoke to reporters standing under a loudly fizzing pipe. "I don't know that I can win here in Louisiana," he told reporters, "but I think I do have a message that will speak to working people, low-income people, and that's why I'm here."
Sanders was the last to speak at the event, which served as a rally for a reviving state Democratic party and for state Rep. John Bel Edwards
, who is the Democratic frontrunner in the governor's race. "We need a political revolution in this country," Sanders said. "The time is now to tell the billionaire class, which controls our economy and controls our political life, that enough is enough."
Sanders blasted the country's "grotesque" income equality, demanded corporations "pay their fair share of taxes," and said if elected, he would ensure his selection for a U.S. Supreme Court judge will "loudly and proudly proclaim" overturning the Citizens United
decision dealing with campaign finance reform. He also said public higher education should be free, a $70 billion proposition, which he said could be paid for by taxing Wall Street speculation.
"I hear you have somewhat of an oil industry here, but nonetheless I have to tell you what is true," he said, pointing to the disastrous impacts of climate change. "We must lead the world in saving this planet from the ravages of climate change."
Unlike many Democrats who saw Gov. Bobby Jindal as an easy target going into 2015 and 2016 elections, Sanders is unsure — he's never met him. ("My impression is he's a pretty conservative guy," he told Gambit.
Sanders will host a public rally at 6 p.m. Sunday, July 26 at Kenner's Pontchartrain Center (4545 Williams Blvd.).