Alexis Berdine

Monday, April 24, 2017

Bernie Sanders, Tom Perez visit Mesa to rally Democrats, push for change

MESA – Arizona voters may have voted Republican in the 2016 presidential election, but Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez recently visited Mesa to share their confidence in the state’s ability to turn blue.

Perez went so far as to bet that President Donald Trump may not make it past his first term as president.

The pair spoke at the Come Together and Fight Back Tour at the Mesa Amphitheatre Friday night.

Perez said Democrats already have chalked up early victories, including the Trump administration’s failed attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“Health care for all is a right in this country, not a privilege,” Perez said.

Perez told the crowd that replacement act stalled because of the support of “people like you rising up.” However, he did warn that Democrats need to continue to take action because the Republicans will continue to try to get rid of the Affordable Care Act.

Sen. Bernie Sanders estimated about 5,000 people joined the crowd at the Mesa Amphitheatre on Friday. (Photo by Josh Orcutt/Cronkite News)

Long lines started early in the day, and Sanders said event had 5,000 people in attendance. The amphitheater can hold 4,950 , and the crowd packed the venue.

The crowd cheered when Perez said Trump does not care about “valuable people,” and he’s not sure if Trump will “make it that far” in his first term as president.

“The Republican playbook is suppression, and it’s all about making it harder for people of color to vote, and that ain’t right,” Perez said.

Sanders followed Perez’s message of distaste for Trump. He called Trump an agent of the “billionaire class” who is selling out the working class.

Sanders urged the crowd to fight back because “people are not going to fight for your rights or give you your freedom. You have to stand up and fight for it and take it.”

Sanders also said the Democratic Party needs to change its current model.

Many of the other speakers called Arizona’s vote earlier this year to raise the minimum wage from $8.05 per hour to the current $10 a victory for Democrats. With the passing of Proposition 206, the minimum wage will keep increasing until 2020 when it will cap off at $12.

Voters also ousted Republican Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, which has given Sanders and Democratic leaders confidence in one day turning the conservative state blue. They told supporters that because of their efforts, this change is within reach.

In a statement released Friday, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel called the “unity” tour an “unhinged, profanity-laced roadshow.”

“Voters entrusted President Trump and Republicans to move our nation forward and enact their vision to better life for all Americans,” she said in the statement. “The derailing crazy train and failed liberal policies on display tonight will do nothing to change that.”

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