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Sanders Touts Fundraising Numbers, 'Radical' Economic Message In Iowa City

Kate Payne/IPR
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont touted his recent fundraising blitz in Iowa City this week, even as some polls show his support slipping after the recent debates.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is highlighting his most recent fundraising blitz as he tours across Iowa this week. Even as recent polling shows support slipping for the Vermont senator, he’s voicing no doubts about his prospects in the first in the nation caucus state.

Some 800 supporters packed in to the gym at the Robert A. Lee Community Center near downtown Iowa City for a chance at some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and to hear from Sanders.

He launched into a familiar message of radically restructuring the American economy to redistribute wealth from the "corporate elite."

“The working class of this country is saying loud and clear from coast to coast, that they are sick and tired of an economy that works for the 1 percent,” Sanders said. “They demand, you demand and I demand an economy that works for all of us.”

And he touted his most recent fundraising totals for the past quarter. His campaign announced Tuesday Sanders had raked in $18 million in the past three months.

While considerable, that amount lags behind the $24.8 million that South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg says he raised.

But speaking to hundreds of supporters in the crowded Iowa City gym Tuesday night, Sanders wasn’t giving any ground.

“I have absolute confidence that we are going to win here in Iowa, that we are going win the Democratic nomination and that we are going together to defeat the most dangerous president in the history of this country,” Sanders said.

That’s despite recent polling released this week showing support for Sanders slipping. The polls, conducted by CNN, Quinnipiac University and Suffolk University/USA Today were conducted in the wake of last week’s first Democratic presidential debate and found Sanders falling in to fourth place, behind former Vice President Joe Biden, California Sen. Kamala Harris and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

But Sanders focused on his fundraising, declaring that his campaign received nearly 1 million individual contributions in the past three months, and touting the dollars sent in by working class Americans.

“The profession that contributed most to our campaign was not Wall Street speculators, not the fossil fuel industry, but the teachers or America. Thank you teachers!” Sanders said to a cheering crowd. “And the other professions that contributed in large numbers were waiters and waitresses, were nurses and students!”

Final fundraising totals for this quarter from the rest of the field are due by July 15th.

Sanders’ message of achieving single payer healthcare and redirecting defense spending to combat global climate change appeal to Shawn Ketcham of Cedar Rapids. He supported Sanders in the 2016 primary and said he believes the senator has a (good shot) of winning Iowa outright this cycle.

Still, he says he found Sanders’ performance in the recent debates underwhelming and says the sliding poll numbers and are somewhat concerning.

“It is concerning though, I would think. I personally feel he didn’t come out quite as aggressive as he probably should have [at the debate], Ketcham said. “I think he planned on going out there saying his message but then all of a sudden that didn’t separate him from the field.”

But Sanders told the crowd Tuesday night that voters are more open to his message this cycle than ever before, arguing it was his “political revolution” that has pushed the Democratic field farther to the left on healthcare, public education and the minimum wage.

“I have been called radical and extreme. That’s ok,” Sanders told the crowd. “But what I want to tell you is over the last four years, since the last time I was here Iowa, a whole lot of people have become radical and extreme.”

Kate Payne was an Iowa City-based Reporter