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In N.H., Bernie Sanders says now ‘Democratic candidates all across the board’ support his ideas

Senator Bernie Sanders held a rally in Concord, N.H., on Sunday.Jim Davis/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

CONCORD, N.H. — Bernie Sanders returned to New Hampshire Sunday for the first time since announcing his second bid for president, calling on supporters to finish the political revolution they started in his campaign four years earlier.

Speaking in a hotel ballroom, the 77-year-old senator from Vermont noted how the political discussion, at least within the Democratic Party, has shifted to the left — and closer to his campaign platform.

“Those ideas that we talked about four years ago that seemed so very radical at that time? Well, today, virtually all of those ideas are supported by a majority of the American people and have overwhelming support from Democrats and independents — and they’re ideas that Democratic candidates all across the board are supporting,” Sanders said.


Sanders railed against the nation’s top 1 percent wealthiest citizens, saying they’ve taken over government and benefited financially at the expense of others. He called out by name companies such as Amazon and Walmart for the pay gap between their owners and workers, as well as the CEOs of health insurance giants UnitedHealth Group and Aetna for raising premiums amid profits.

In addition, he advocated for high quality, universal Pre-K, changes to the immigration system, and scaling back what he described as the “military-industrial” and “prison-industrial” complex.

“No more private prisons and detention centers. No more profiteering from locking people up. No more ‘war on drugs,’” he said. “No more keeping people in jail because they’re too poor to afford cash bail.”

But Sanders also paid homage to the state that launched him into the national conversation.

“New Hampshire, you helped begin the political revolution in 2016 and, with your help on this campaign, we are going to complete what we started here,” he said.

Indeed, Sanders enters the 2020 New Hampshire race in a vastly different fashion than his last attempt. In 2016, he was a long-shot candidate holding freewheeling events with minimal organization, and many of his initial crowds were largely drawn by word of mouth.


This time, Sanders is not just the defending champion of the New Hampshire Democratic primary, which he won with 60 percent of the vote, but at his event in Concord, layers of advance staff and volunteers coordinated logistics like parking and offered tablets to everyone to collect data from people as soon as they entered.

Inside, rope lines walled off press and provided VIPs with choice spots, while campaign aides organized the rest of the audience into a tighter formation for the television cameras. After the event, Sanders huddled with his statewide steering committee, a reminder that he is the only 2020 candidate with an existing team on the ground.

“I came here already convinced he is exactly who this country needs as president,” said Simon Farias, 28, who works at a Concord homeless shelter. “I supported him last time, but now it feels more real and that he cannot be ignored or marginalized like he was often before.”

During the rally, Sanders said 1.1 million people have either given the campaign money or signed up to volunteer for his campaign already.

Such an early show of force could be concerning for his liberal competitors in the White House race, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is campaigning regularly in New Hampshire and working on hiring staff in the state. She’s leading all the top presidential candidates for the amount of trips she has made to the state this year, and the Cambridge Democrat returns again on Friday.


A recent University of New Hampshire poll provided a snapshot of where the race stands 11 months before its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. Sanders leads the large field with 26 percent, with former Vice President Joe Biden at 22 percent, Senator Kamala Harris at 10 percent, and Warren, in fourth, with 7 percent support.

Similarly, a new survey shows Sanders also in a strong position ahead of the caucuses in Iowa, the only state that has a presidential nominating contest ahead of New Hampshire. A poll of Iowa caucus-goers released Saturday night found Sanders statistically tied for first place with Biden — 25 percent and 27 percent support, respectively — and no one else in the field in double digits.

In addition to his rally in Concord during a snowstorm, Sanders also was scheduled to hold a second event in Keene.

Amid the weather, roughly 800 people showed up to hear Sanders speak at a hotel ballroom, per a campaign official. (For context: More than 1,500 saw Harris make her first New Hampshire appearance last month, also amid a weekend snowstorm.)

Unlike Harris, however, Sanders was speaking to a crowd filled with people who were clearly among his supporters. Most of his remarks focused on income inequality within the United States, topped with a call for a Medicare-for-all plan, something now widely backed by a number of Democrats in the 2020 field.


“Today, as we launch our campaign here in New Hampshire, we say to the private health insurance companies, whether you like it or not, the United States will join every other major country on earth and guarantee health care to all people as a right,” said Sanders.

Sanders officially launched his campaign late last month. He held his first campaign events last weekend in Brooklyn, where he grew up, and Chicago, where he attended college.

James Pindell can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell or subscribe to his Ground Game newsletter on politics: