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Image: Gage Skidmore

Image: Gage Skidmore

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders made a recent appearance in Grand Rapids to advocate support for his one-time rival, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Addressing the crowd at Innovation Central High School in Grand Rapids, Sanders sought to assure his former supporters that the platforms put forth during his bid for the presidential nomination during the Democratic primaries are still alive and well in the Clinton agenda.

“It is by far the most progressive platform in the history of American politics,” Sanders said in a television interview before the event. “It talks about Wall Street’s greed and breaking up the large banks. It talks about transforming our energy system. It talks about raising the minimum wage to a living wage. It talks about health care for all people. It talks about what we have to do to protect a middle class which today is in a lot of trouble.”

During his run for the presidential nomination, Sanders — a self-proclaimed socialist — largely focused on issues of income inequality and the wealth gap. Studies show that household income has grown 26% over the past dozen years, for instance, but the cost of living has also increased 29% during that same period.

Sanders emerged as something of a dark horse during the 2016 primary season, a hitherto obscure Independent senator from a small liberal state who wound up challenging presumptive frontrunner Hillary Clinton until nearly the end of the race. In Michigan, Sanders took a surprise win over Clinton in the March 8 primary with a narrow 49% to 48% vote.

The fervent support Sanders’ campaign garnered from young people in particular has not easily transferred to the Clinton camp. Polls show that only 31% of Millennials support Clinton, prompting Sanders to urge young people to consider their options and their future.

“I would ask young people and all voters to take a hard look at the agenda that Secretary Clinton is bringing forth,” Sanders said. “She is talking about a proposal that I worked with her on to make public colleges and universities tuition-free, which would be of huge help to thousands and thousands of families in Michigan. Raising the minimum wage to a living wage. Pay equity for women. The understanding that climate change is real and we have to protect the planet for our children and our grandchildren.”

Sanders also had strong words of criticisms for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, particularly in light of recent evidence that indicates the billionaire may not have paid any federal income taxes for more than a dozen years because of a declared $916 million business loss in 1995.

“In one day, Donald Trump did more than I did in a year to tell the American people how corrupt the political system is. How corrupt our tax system is, how rigged our economy is,” Sanders said at a speech in Dearborn, just prior to his Grand Rapids visit. “In one day, we learned that this multibillionaire, who owns mansions all over the world… does not pay a nickel in federal income tax, and he’s proud of that. He thinks we can just stiff the middle class.”

Trump also has residences in both New York and Florida, and the move from the former to the latter can save people in high income tax brackets thousands or millions of dollars every year.

Sanders continued: “We’ve got a message for Mr. Trump and the other billionaires: Hillary Clinton is going to be elected president, and they’re all going to start paying their fair share.”

Sanders will continue to campaign throughout several other states in support of Clinton in the coming weeks. Clinton herself is scheduled to attend a rally and fundraiser on October 10 in Detroit.

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