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Sen. Bernie Sanders Rallies In Sioux City To Flip Iowa's 4th Congressional District

Katie Peikes/IPR
Sen. Bernie Sanders stumped for J.D. Scholten in Sioux City on Saturday.

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has been traveling the country to rally for candidates he says could make a difference. One of those candidates he believes in is J.D. Scholten, the Democrat running to represent Iowa’s 4th Congressional District.

Sanders told a crowd at Morningside College in Sioux City that a mere one or two districts could determine whether Democrats or Republicans take control of the House. 

“That is a possibility. And one of those votes could be the 4th District of Iowa,” he said to loud applause and cheers.

Voter turnout, he said, will make a big difference.

During the rally, Sanders took aim at President Trump, calling him a “pathological liar”, who Sanders said hasn’t delivered on promises like universal health care. He also criticized Congressman Steve King, R-Iowa, for his support for tax cuts Sanders says will hurt social security and Medicaid.

“But this election is not just about Congressman King and it is not about Donald Trump,” Sanders said. “It is about the kind of future that we want for ourselves and our children and future generations.”

Sanders spoke about issues like student debt, wages and health care. He called the country’s health care system “dysfunctional” and praised the momentum that expanded Medicare is picking up.

“I want you to think about what it will mean to this country, what it will mean that you don’t have to worry about whether you can afford to go to the doctor or not,” Sanders said. “What it will mean is you don’t have to worry about going bankrupt if you end up in the hospital, if your child ends up in the hospital.”

During his three 39 county tours across the 4th District, Scholten has made health care a key issue in his campaign, with his long term vison being Medicare for all. He talked on Saturday about going to gas stations to fill up his RV, the “Sioux City Sue”, and noticing donation boxes for people who are sick.

“We live in the wealthiest country in the world, and that’s unacceptable,” Scholten said.

Scholten fired up the crowd talking about campaigning in Iowa’s most rural, conservative district, going to every county and meeting with voters from all parties, face-to-face.

“It’s about proving you’re trustworthy, it’s about proving that you’re gonna fight for the people of your district and that you’re gonna earn votes regardless of voter history,” Scholten said. “And we’re building a coalition to not only compete with Steve King, but to beat Steve King.”

After the rally, Scholten said Sanders coming to support him is one vision he had when he first launched his campaign two years ago. “It just shows the amount of hard work that we’ve been able to put in,” he said. He acknowledged the energy from the crowd of about 300 people who came out to show support.

“This will be something that I remember for a very long time,” Scholten said.

Katie Peikes was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio from 2018 to 2023. She joined IPR as its first-ever Western Iowa reporter, and then served as the agricultural reporter.