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In Albany, Sanders touts economic platform

2016 Presidential election

In Albany, Sanders touts economic platform

Bernie Sanders arrived at the Washington Avenue Armory in Albany to booming applause, focusing his s
In Albany, Sanders touts economic platform
Bernie Sanders speaks at the Albany Armory on Washington Ave. for rally on Monday April 11, 2016.
Photographer: Marc Schultz
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Bernie Sanders arrived at the Washington Avenue Armory in Albany to booming applause, focusing his speech on the economy and social inequality.

Sanders, who spoke to a crowd of about 4,000 on Monday afternoon, said a majority of income is going to the country’s top 1 percent and that a “rigged economy” is to blame.

“The truth is today we have a corrupt campaign finance system, which is undermining American democracy,” he said. “Billionaires and Wall Street and other power players are spending hundreds of billions of dollars to support candidates that represent the wealthy and the powerful. That is the truth.”

The Democratic presidential candidate said people in America are “working the longest hours of any people in the industrialized world” but that half of all income is going to the wealthiest 1 percent.

“One-tenth of 1 percent now owns almost as much wealth as the 90 percent,” he said. “We have to create an economy that works for all of us, not just the 1 percent.”

As president, Sanders said he would work to make colleges and universities tuition free, demilitarize police departments, stop the war on drugs and create equal opportunities for women, African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans.

“We should be investing in young people, education and jobs and not in jails and incarceration,” he said.

Sanders said people need more education today to land decent jobs.

“Why are we finding ourselves in debt? Why should we be punishing billions of people to get an education? We should be rewarding them, not punishing them,” he said.

Sanders said some women earn 79 cents to the dollar that men earn and that women in America “want the whole damn dollar.”

“Women will not be second-class citizens,” he said.

On immigration, Sanders said he would create a path for citizenship. “We will end bigotry and racism,” he said.

The U.S. senator from Vermont praised New York’s ban on hydraulic fracturing, saying he would like to see the ban in every state in the country.

“I want to congratulate the people of New York for having the guts to tell the governor that the fossil fuel industry, you will not accept the poison,” he said.

He said he would also like to see the state’s minimum wage hike to $15 an hour in some areas expanded nationwide.

“No one can live on $11,000 or $12,000 a year Social Security,” Sanders said. “We’re not going to cut Social Security, we’re going to expand Social Security.”

In addition to education, Sanders said he would work to make health care more affordable, noting high deductibles and high copayments.

“Everyday the drug companies are ripping us off,” he said.

He bashed Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for voting in favor of the war in Iraq.

“I listened closely and I did not believe them,” he said. “I voted against the war.”

He also took a jab at her speeches, saying that for an estimated $250,000 a speech they must be “brilliant” and “earth shattering.”

Sanders said his campaign is gaining momentum and that he is coming out on top of Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.

“Change comes when people look around them and decide against the status quo,” he said. “I believe we’re in that moment of American history.”

Lines to get into the rally were blocks-long down Washington Avenue. Some people arrived as early as 6 a.m. Doors opened at 11 a.m. with the event kicking off around 2 p.m.

The Armory welcomed approximately 4,000 people Monday afternoon, with another 1,000 or more forced to stay outside and listen to Sanders’ speech via speakers.

Despite the cold, wind and light rain, people were feeling the Bern.

The crowds inside and outside the Armory cheered “Bernie!” and “Feel the Bern!” People driving by on Washington Avenue honked their horns as supporters danced and sang on the sidewalk.

People also came prepared inside with signs that read “Bern Down for What,” “Bernin’ Love,” “Dump Trump” and “Hillary is a Jabroni.” Others wore Bernie Sanders T-shirts, buttons and hats.

Assemblyman Phil Steck, D-Colonie, said, unlike his Democratic colleagues, he supports Sanders rather than Clinton.

Steck, who spoke at the beginning of the event, said he backs Sanders for two reasons: War and wealth.

He pointed to the Vietnam and Iraq wars saying, “Foreign intervention doesn’t work.”

“There’s always blowback from that,” he said. “It’s not a sensible use of resources.”

Steck said the middle-class and low-income communities should be addressed.

“The other candidate has not been a leader on addressing that issue,” Steck said of Clinton.

Clinton, the former secretary of state and U.S. senator for New York, is also seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

Clinton was at Cohoes High School last Monday, where she spoke to a crowd of more than 1,000 people. Clinton said she will “bring manufacturing back to upstate New York.”

She also focused her speech on education, jobs, clean energy and immigration. She said her plan to make college affordable differs from Sanders because she would require the wealthy to pay for their education.

Sanders has targeted General Electric in his campaign, saying the company is “destroying the moral fabric of this country” and describing the manufacturer as “greedy.”

GE CEO Jeff Immelt fired back in a letter in the Washington Post saying, “We’ve never been a big hit with socialists” and “we create wealth and jobs, instead of just calling for them in speeches.”

In Binghamton on Monday morning, Sanders announced his campaign would air a new television ad calling for a nationwide ban on hydraulic fracturing. After stopping in Albany, Sanders traveled to Buffalo for another event.

Also in the Capital Region on Monday were Republican contenders billionaire Donald Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Their visit follows Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who was in Scotia on Thursday.

The presidential hopefuls made stops in the Capital Region ahead of the state’s April 19 primary.

Reach Gazette reporter Haley Viccaro at 395-3114, hviccaro@dailygazette.net or @HRViccaro on Twitter.

Reach Gazette reporter Haley Viccaro at 395-3114, hviccaro@dailygazette.net or @HRViccaro on Twitter.

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