DES MOINES — In his final campaign rally before the Iowa caucuses, Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders on Sunday decried the nation’s “rigged economy” and pressed other now-familiar themes before an enthusiastic crowd estimated at 1,700 people.
“You want a radical idea? All right, here’s a radical idea,” the senator from Vermont told an audience packed into a gym at Grand View University. “Together, we’re going to create an economy that works for all of us, not just the 1 percent.”
Sanders’s appearance capped a full day of campaigning on the eve of the nation’s first presidential nominating contest, which could go a long way toward shaping the direction of the Democratic race against Hillary Clinton. Polls have shown the caucuses to be a dead heat.
Sanders made only passing references to Clinton during his 48-minute remarks, instead emphasizing the same issues that propelled him from being a fringe candidate when he launched his bid nine months ago to a surprisingly strong contender.
He called for a $15 minimum wage, pay equity for women, paid family leave for workers, a $1 trillion federal jobs program and an overhaul of the tax system to make large corporations to pay substantially more.
Sanders singled out Wal-Mart, saying it pays its workers so little that taxpayers subsidize the company’s owners by paying for Medicaid, food stamps and housing assistance for its employees.
“I say to the Walton family: Get off of welfare, pay your workers a living wage,” Sanders said, referring to the family that owns the company.
In an interview taped in Ames before the rally, Sanders told Matt Lauer of NBC’s “Today” show that his campaign is “in this until the end,” regardless of the outcome in Iowa.
“What we are doing is running a national campaign,” Sanders said. “We’re going to run until the convention.”
"I hope we win, but if we lose by two points, so what — we're going to go to New Hampshire, then we're going to go to South Carolina, then we're going to go to Nevada," he told Lauer. "We are in this to the end."