With the election less than five weeks away, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said Nov. 8 is not about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.
“This campaign is not a personality contest. We’re not voting for class president of our high school. We are fighting. And what this campaign is about is the survival of the middle class,” he told a crowd of about 500 people at a UAW hall in Dearborn Thursday morning. “This campaign is not about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. It is about you, and your family, and your kids.”
And even though he waged a heated battle with Clinton during the presidential primary season, Sanders said that Hillary Clinton is the person who will fight for the middle class, not Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“In one day, Donald Trump did more than I did in a year to tell the American people how corrupt the political system is. How corrupt our tax system is, how rigged our economy is. In one day we learned that this multibillionaire, who owns mansions all over the world … does not pay a nickel in federal income tax and he’s proud of that. He thinks we can just stiff the middle class
“We’ve got a message for Mr. Trump and the other billionaires: Hillary Clinton is going to be elected president and they’re all going to start paying their fair share,” Sanders told the crowd.
Seven months after his primary election win over Clinton in Michigan, Sanders returned to campaign for her in Dearborn, Ann Arbor, East Lansing and Grand Rapids.
His 49%-48% win over Clinton in the March 8 presidential primary was at odds with polls leading up to the election that showed Clinton with a lead ranging from 13 to 37 percentage points over Sanders. But pollsters underestimated the enthusiasm for Sanders, especially among young voters.
And those are the voters that Clinton still is struggling to attract to her campaign. The Sanders visit, which includes stops at the Museum of Art at University of Michigan at 1 p.m., Adams Field at Michigan State University at 3:45 p.m. and Central High School, 421 Fountain St. NE in Grand Rapids at 6:45 p.m., is partially geared toward encouraging those young voters to cast their ballot for Clinton.
►Related: Let us help you register to vote
It also was about swaying the union voters that Trump has been trying to woo with anti-trade talk. Cindy Estrada, vice president of the UAW, said she’s convinced to vote for Clinton even though she was a staunch supporter of Sanders in the primary.
“He did the right thing. He endorsed Hillary Clinton and said even on her worst day, she’s better than Trump on his best day,” Estrada said, adding that Sanders made sure opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership was on the Democratic agenda along with fixing bad trade deals, support for public education, tuition free college and the environment.
“To honor Bernie Sander is not by voting for just someone or any other third party candidate,” she said. “We have to make sure they uphold our progressive agenda.”
Sanders said that Clinton will fight for labor, raising the minimum wage and making sure women get equal pay for equal work, and that Democrats would never try to make it harder for people to vote.
“It has never occurred to me, that I would try to stop people who might be voting against me. People who do that are political cowards, they don’t have the guts to stand on their ideas,” he said. “The only way to win elections is to make it harder for poor people and people of color to participate in the political process. But if you can’t stand on your ideas, you’ve got to keep people from voting because they’re going to vote against you. You should get out of politics and get another job.”
Sanders' visit comes as the Clinton campaign announced Thursday that the former secretary of state will return to the state on Monday for a fund-raiser and rally in metro Detroit. The last time she was in Michigan was Aug. 11 when she gave a speech on jobs and the economy in Warren.
Trump has been back to the state five times since the Republican National Convention in mid-July, including a pair of fundraisers in Grand Rapids and Detroit and rally in Novi last week.
Michigan Republican Party chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, said supporters of Sanders shouldn't trust Clinton to work for them, especially after recordings surfaced from a private fundraiser where Clinton said young supporters of Sanders' were probably living in their parents' basements and working as baristas.
“Those struggling under the Clinton and Obama economy shouldn’t be putting their support behind a candidate who doesn’t respect them and continues to push for the status quo," she said in a statement. "They want someone who will make our government work for them, and given her 30 years in politics and disdain for millions of Americans, Hillary Clinton is not that person.”