Reprinted from Reader Supported News
With the wind at his back following his massive rally in Madison, Wisconsin, Bernie Sanders returned to Iowa for a three-day campaign swing. Before he even arrived, Quinnipiac University released a poll that had Sanders surging to 33% in the Hawkeye State. Hillary Clinton still holds a 19-point lead in Iowa, but that lead was 45% just one month ago. Polls in New Hampshire have Sanders within single digits.
The highlight of Bernie's three-day swing in Iowa was a standing-room-only crowd of over 2,500 in Council Bluffs. It was by far the largest crowd any candidate has mustered in Iowa this year. The second and third largest crowds of around 800 were also at Sanders events in Des Moines and Davenport.
Former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley was also in Iowa, but his largest crowd was 125 people in a Des Moines suburb. In an interview following a stop Thursday in Waukee, O'Malley said Sanders has been on the rise partly because voters see him for now as a "protest candidate."
"People feel like big money has subsumed, taken over, their politics, and they're frustrated by it," O'Malley said. "People feel like their voices don't matter. People feel like they're not being heard, and right now, they want to protest about that. I'm not running as a protest candidate, I'm running for president of the United States."
O'Malley is also the first candidate to run a negative ad on the Democratic side, and it wasn't against Hillary Clinton. O'Malley attacked Sanders for his position on gun control, even though the NRA currently gives Sanders a D-minus. O'Malley clearly sees that he has to get past Sanders before he can be a challenger to Clinton.
O'Malley is either spinning or out of touch with Sanders supporters. Sanders crowds are enthusiastic and committed, and they cite his authenticity as one reason. Maybe O'Malley should lose the teleprompter and the speeches about Baltimore's role in the American Revolution. Bernie is connecting with voters while O'Malley is gaining no traction.
Another major boost for Sanders came in a press conference at a firefighters union hall in Council Bluffs. Three weeks ago, Larry Cohen was the national president of the Communication Workers of America (CWA). On July 3rd in Council Bluffs he became a volunteer for Bernie Sanders.
Cohen said it "wasn't a close call. For working families in a union or not, this is the candidate who not only stands up for us but believes, in his words, that we need a political revolution ... Bernie Sanders has showed us in the last couple of months that we can run a campaign, that we can raise money, that we can break turnout records wherever we go, just by standing up for working people ... I don't know that in my lifetime, or anyone's in this room, that we have had a candidate for president with his viability, who was there his entire life for working people ... Every candidate in these primary and caucus states can talk well, they know what we want to hear. This is a guy who for his entire life has been there for working people, who doesn't back down, who stands up for us when we are in fights with the biggest corporations in the country ... He doesn't back away ... He doesn't avoid the fight."
Cohen said he will do whatever is needed, in Iowa or anywhere he is needed. He will work to bring in support from other union members and their allies, which is a huge asset to Sanders.
Bernie said that Larry Cohen's endorsement means a great deal to him, that they have worked together for years, but that it's not just about Larry and the CWA, that other union members are on board and he is proud to have their support.
On Monday night, the surge spread to Portland, Maine, where more than 7,500 people packed an arena in another big show of grassroots support for Bernie Sanders. Portland is not Madison, Wisconsin, so this number says a lot about the breadth of his support.