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Off To Iowa, Sanders Sounding Like A Presidential Candidate

J. Scott Applewhite
Sen. Bernie Sanders, pictured here in Washington, D.C. in February, is holding several town meetings in Iowa this September.

As a resident of Iowa, Jeff Cox has never voted for Bernie Sanders. But he’s hoping to have the chance to soon.

Cox is a longtime Democratic activist, and the point man for a Johnson County steering committee aimed at drafting Sanders for the 2016 presidential contest. And for Cox and other like-minded Iowans, whose early caucuses give them outsized importance when it comes to selecting major party presidential nominees, Vermont’s junior senator offers a progressive foil to the more centrist platform held by the early Democratic favorite.

"Can we engage [voters] in a grassroots political revolution? The answer is I don't know, but that's what I'm trying to find out. If I think I can, I will run. And if I think at the end of the day that really can't happen, I won't." - Sen. Bernie Sanders

“He will support working people first and he will keep us out of unwinnable wars. And I don’t believe Hillary Clinton would do that. And so that’s why I’m supporting Bernie,” Cox says.

Sanders these days is beginning to sound more and more like a candidate for president. And with another trip to Iowa on the horizon – as was first reported by Seven Days Monday – Sanders is ramping up his presence on the national stage.

The work being done now by Cox and other left-leaning activists could figure heavily in the deliberations of Sanders, who first revealed back in March that he’s considering a run for the presidency.

In an interview on NPRon Monday, Sanders said his decision hinges on whether he thinks he can mobilize the more than 80 million Americans of voting age who didn’t bother to cast a ballot in 2012.

“Can we engage them in a grassroots political revolution? The answer is I don’t know, but that’s what I’m trying to find out. If I think I can, I will run. And if I think at the end of the day that really can’t happen, I won’t,” Sanders said.

Sanders indicated though that he thinks the answer to that question will be "yes."

“If your question is do I think we can get that message out and that people will respond to it in a positive way? I honestly do,” he said on On Point.

Sanders says his candidacy would pit the interests of the working class against the "big money" interests he says have taken over in Washington.

“The problem is the extraordinary, relentless greed of the people on top who are saying, ‘yeah, I have $80 billion – that’s not enough, I need more,’” he said.

Evidence of a Sanders candidacy is mounting. His fundraising apparatus ramped up considerably in the past quarter, when he took in more than $700,000 between April and June. More than 85 percent of the contributions arrived in denominations of less than $100, and no gift exceeded $1,000 – a rarity in federal politics.

Cox says people like him are prepared to work hard on Sanders’ behalf in Iowa, where Sanders will hold three town hall meetings in the middle of September.

“We plan to put up yard signs and put bumper stickers on and put stickers on people and turn people out to hear him. That’s the plan,” Cox says.

And while some pundits have said Sanders stands little chance of staging a serious challenge to Clinton, assuming she decides to run, Cox disagrees.

“I think ordinary caucus attenders don’t buy the notion that Hillary is inevitable. And I’m not the least bit worried about Sen. Sanders’ viability in the caucuses,” Cox says.

In addition to trips to Iowa, Sanders has also traveled to New Hampshire, which holds the country’s first presidential primary.

The Vermont Statehouse is often called the people’s house. I am your eyes and ears there. I keep a close eye on how legislation could affect your life; I also regularly speak to the people who write that legislation.
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