Clive, Iowa — Even though he was not physically present due to impeachment trial votes in the Senate, Bernie Sanders drew a crowd in Iowa on Friday night many times the size of any other Democratic campaign event this week.
Sanders had a few advantages other candidates haven’t had: a free concert (headlined by the band Bon Iver) at a venue that had several cash bars selling beer and liquor. And while most of the attendees (who skewed young, as one would expect) plan to vote for Bernie, their enthusiasm for him should not be overstated. I watched one Sanders volunteer ask everyone standing in a long concessions line if they’d be willing to knock on doors for Bernie this weekend, and not a single person signed up.
Still, the Biden and Buttigieg campaigns have been drawing mere hundreds of Iowans this week, and the turnout of a few thousand people for the Bernie-less rally for Bernie was impressive. After some technical difficulties, Sanders spoke to the crowd by telephone to deliver a truncated version of his stump speech in which he promised his election would not merely remove Trump from office but “transform our country.”
The political highlights of the night occurred when Michigan congresswoman Rashida Tlaib led the crowd in booing Hillary Clinton (for which she later apologized) and when left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore delivered a stemwinder against “corporate Democrats” and the Democratic National Committee.
An enraged Moore told the crowd that the DNC was removing the debate qualification requirement that a candidate must have hundreds of thousands of small donors to benefit Michael Bloomberg. “They removed it so that he can be in the next debate! He doesn’t have to show he has any support amongst the American people, he can just buy his way onto the debate stage. And I’ve gotta tell you what’s so disgusting about this. I watched the debate in Iowa here two weeks ago, the all-white debate, and the fact that . . . the DNC will not allow Cory Booker on that stage, will not allow Julian Castro on that stage, but they’re going to allow Mike Bloomberg on the stage because he’s got a billion f***ing dollars!”
In addition to trashing the DNC, Moore hailed Sanders’s lifetime commitment to left-wing politics. “I’m pretty certain the term gay-rights didn’t even exist when he was already for gay-rights” in 1972, Moore said. He also highlighted Sanders’s support for an unlimited right to abortion before Roe v. Wade.
Moore told his “fellow Boomers” in the crowd that the only way their generation could make amends for destroying the climate, strapping younger Americans with outrageous levels of student debt, and leaving them unable to afford to buy a home is to vote for Sanders. “You’ve got to listen to the children,” he said.
And to those concerned about Sanders’s ability to beat Trump, Moore, who correctly predicted Trump’s path to victory in 2016, said that Bernie Sanders is the Democrats’ “only chance to win” in 2020.