By Gina Yarbrough/San Diego County News
SAN DIEGO–Senator Bernie Sanders kicked off his presidential campaign in California with a rally in San Diego to boost support his 2020 bid for the White House.
More than 3,000 enthusiastic Sanders supporters gathered Friday at Waterfront Park to hear the Vermont senator’s 2020 platform.
Sanders began his remarks by addressing late Friday’s release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative report on the Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election. The report was submitted to Attorney General William Barr for review.
“ I don’t know what’s in the report. Nobody does. I do know, however, that Mueller wound up indicting 34 people, including 6 Trump campaign officials — Manafort, Flynn, Stone, Gates (Manafort’s assistant), Papadopolous, and Michael Cohen,” Sanders said.
Sanders demanded that the Trump administration release the full report to the public.
“I also know that it is imperative that the Trump administration make that full report public as soon as possible. Nobody, including the president of the United States, is above the law. The people have a right to know what’s in that report,” he added.
Sanders took aim at Wall Street’s role in ‘economic injustice’ for working families. He accused financial institutions of putting profits before people, and vowed to make changes to those institutions, if elected president.
“The function of banking is to facilitate the flow of capital into productive and job-creating activities. Financial institutions cannot be an island unto themselves, standing as huge profit centers outside of the real economy. Today, six huge Wall Street financial institutions have assets equivalent to 61 percent of our gross domestic product – over $9.8 trillion,” he said. “These institutions underwrite more than half the mortgages in this country and more than two-thirds of the credit cards. The greed, recklessness and illegal behavior of major Wall Street firms plunged this country into the worst financial crisis since the 1930s. They are too powerful to be reformed. They must be broken up.”
Sanders advocates raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour to lift families out of poverty. He also praised companies for stepping up to raise the minimum wage.
“We have also seen five states, including California, pass $15 an hour legislation and, just a few weeks ago, the U.S. House Committee on Labor and Education reported out a bill that will raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour. And, I believe, that bill will pass the full House within the month,” Sanders said.
He added, “Four years ago, when we talked about the idea of a $15 an hour minimum wage, it seemed like an impossible dream. Well, since then, we have successfully pressured Amazon and Disney to raise their minimum wage to $15, and just today Costco raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour.”
Sanders addressed the rise of hate crimes against ethnic and religious groups in the United States. He told his supporters he intends to end the rise of bigotry in the country.
“And it also means doing everything we can to end the growing tribalism and religious bigotry we are seeing in this country and around the world. Rise in hate crimes. Attacks against blacks, Jews, Muslims, gays and immigrants,” he said.
Sanders continues to push for his proposal, Medicare for All, to provide every American healthcare through the government.
“We will pass a Medicare for all single-payer program. Health care is a right, not a privilege,’ he told his supporters.
He also blasted the pharmaceutical industry for the increase of prescription drugs.
“Today, we say to the pharmaceutical industry, that you will no longer charge the American people the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, the result being that one out of five Americans cannot afford the prescriptions their doctors prescribe. Seniors in this country should not have to cut their pills in half. The outrageous greed of the pharmaceutical industry is going to end. We are going to lower prescription drug prices in this country.”
The 77-year-old Vermont senator plans to travel to Los Angeles and San Francisco this weekend to rally support for his 2020 presidential bid.
On Saturday, he will visit the Islamic Center of Southern California to join interfaith leaders including Muslim Imams, Jewish Rabbis, Christian priests and pastors, as well as members of the congregation.