Bernie Sanders Mocks GOP Candidates’ Reliance on Sheldon Adelson’s Money
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders mocked Republicans for running to casino mogul Sheldon Adelson for donations on a campaign tour of Nevada today. While talking to a crowd of 2,000 people at a campaign rally, Sanders spoke of an “Adelson caucus“.
The comments come on a 2-day tour of Nevada by Bernie Sanders, who is currently polling 2nd in the Democratic field behind Hillary Clinton. Nevada is seen as a key state in the 2016 primaries, because state leaders move its caucus to the same day as the South Carolina primary, on Saturday, February 20. (The Republican caucus in Nevada is the next Saturday, February 27.) The early vote and the Saturday caucus should assure a much higher turnout in Nevada than in previous presidential nominating cycles.
Bernie Sanders’s Campaign
Despite being an Independent, Bernie Sanders is running for the Democratic nomination in 2016. In Congressional votes, he caucuses with the Democratic Party. He is running as a socialist, calling for a tax system which would close the widening economic gap by taxing the richest Americans.
Bernie Sanders advocates ideas that are well outside the mainstream opinions of American thought. He claims those ideas hearken back to earlier and better times in U.S. history. Sanders has proposed a return to the more progressive tax structure of the 1950s, when the wealthiest class of Americans had an 80% tax rate on their income. Sanders points to the 1950s as a time when the United States was stronger — and when the American middle class was at its strongest.
He points to the Republican tax agenda of the past 30 years — the “trickle down” system which lowers taxes on the rich in hopes the rich will reinvest the cash and build jobs — as the reason the American middle class is disappearing. He charges the GOP’s tax system represents a redistribution of wealth away from the middle class and to the billionaires, and says it accounts for the growing disparity between the economic classes.
People can debate whether Bernie Sanders is right or not, but his campaign has presented Democrats with a definite second path in an election cycle people expected Hillary Clinton to dominate.
“The Billionaire Class”
Obviously, Bernie Sanders’ plans are not popular with billionaires, whose influence has grown in the wake of the 2010 US Supreme Court decision over Citizens United v. FEC case. The Citizens United decision did away with most restrictions on campaign donations, which allowed billionaires like Sheldon Adelson to contribute vast sums of money, when before 2010 these were much more restricted. Sheldon Adelson donated $90 million to Republicans in the 2012 presidential election cycle and has boasted he’ll donate more than $100 million in 2016.
Bernie Sanders questions a system in which Americans can buy votes with huge donations, scoring points with voters by deriding the “billionaire class”. He asks how much a Republican win would to billionaires if they can spend $700 million on political campaigns, as the Koch Brothers have said they would do in 2016. But his comments on Monday were directed at the Republican politicians who have made special trips to Las Vegas to kowtow to Sheldon Adelson, and asks whether that is the way the system was meant to work.
Bernie Sanders: “Not Invited” by Sheldon Adelson
In his speech on Monday, Bernie Sanders said with obvious sarcasm, “Sheldon Adelson has not invited me to speak with him.”
He added that his own campaign is funded by average, everyday people. Bernie Sanders claimed the average donation to his campaign is $30.
The comments were most directed at Sen. Marco Rubio, who signed on to be a co-sponsor of the anti-online gambling bill, Restore America’s Wire Act, the week before he officially launched his presidential campaign in June 2015. In Sanders’ estimation, Marco Rubio is seen as selling his vote for the hope Sheldon Adelson will donate money to his campaign.
Republicans Kowtowing to Adelson
If so, he would not be the only one. In spring 2015, several different Republican candidates visited Las Vegas to commisserate with the Republican Jewish Coalition. At the time, the media characterized those visits by Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, and Rick Perry as specifically intended to appeal to Sheldon Adelson. Each of the men were said to have had multiple meetings with Adelson and his people over a period of several days.
Bernie Sanders’ Strategy
After he leaves Las Vegas, Bernie Sanders plans to spend most of the next several weeks campaigning in the pivotal early states: Iowa and New Hampshire. Most political analysts believe Sanders needs to win both the Iowa and New Hampshire races to pose a serious threat to Hillary Clinton. If he were to make a game of it in those states, then South Carolina and Nevada would become key battlegrounds.
Thus, the campaign has a need to prepare Nevada to be a potential battleground. Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs spoke of his campaign’s need to do well in Nevada, and discussed how they believe they have a chance.
Briggs said, “We think we have a shot here. Obviously, we’re working hard in Iowa and New Hampshire, but Bernie is running a national campaign.“
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