KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says he can win the Democratic nomination if there is a large voter turnout in Michigan.
The U.S. senator from Vermont held a rally at the Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo where hundreds gathered to hear him speak. People already started forming a line outside the Wings Event Center more than two hours before doors opened.
Sanders began his speech by offering condolences to the families affected by mass shootings including the Feb. 20 deadly shooting spree in Kalamazoo.
He met with Gene Kopf, the father of the 14-year-old shooting spree survivor Abigail Kopf, moments before the rally.
Gene had asked both Sanders and Hillary Clinton what they would do to curb the gun violence culture during the Democratic debate in Flint. Afterwards, Gene told 24 Hour News 8 he was unimpressed with their responses.
In a one-on-one interview with Sanders before Monday’s rally, Sanders told 24 Hour News 8 these kinds of tragedies happen too often
“We have an epidemic of gun violence in this country every American is appalled by these kinds of mass shootings. We have got to do everything we can to stop them. I think there is a broad consensus in this country that we need to strengthen and better enforce the instant background check. The bottom line is we got to do everything we possibly can to make sure that people who should not have guns, people with a criminal background, people with a mental instability do not get those guns,” said Sanders. “That means dealing with the so-called gun show loopholes where people can avoid the instant background checks. Dealing with the so called straw man situation where people can legally buy guns and sell them to criminals. In my own view we should not be selling assault weapons, military style assault weapons in this country.”
Sanders also touched on a variety of topics during the rally including raising minimum wage, changing trade policies, dealing with climate change, rebuilding water systems in Flint, tuition-free college education and taking marijuana out of the federal controls system.
“Together we’re going to raise the minimum wage from the starvation wage…to $15 an hour over the next few years,” said Sanders.
In reaction to Sunday night’s debate in Flint, Sanders said Hillary Clinton’s claims that he voted against helping the automobile industry is not true.
“I voted for the auto bailout. I did not vote for the bailout of the crooks on Wall Street,” said Sanders.
“My message is that at a time when the middle class is struggling and we have massive levels of income and wealth inequality where almost all of the income and wealth is going to the top one percent, we need to create an economy that works for all of us and not just the people on top and that’s what I am focused on,” said Sanders in the one-on-one interview.
During the rally, he called again for the resignation of Governor Snyder over the Flint water crisis.
“If the local government does not have the resources to replace the pipes and provide the healthcare that the children and adults of Flint need. If the state government for whatever reason chooses not to do what has to be done, I think you have a public health crisis and I think the federal government is going to have to move in quickly,” said Sanders.
>>Watch Sanders’ entire speech by clicking on the video player below or app users can click here.
Sanders will also be in Dearborn and Ann Arbor later Monday for rallies.
He and other candidates have been stumping in Michigan leading up to the Tuesday presidential primary. His Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state, will be in Grand Rapids and Detroit on Monday.
Michigan voters go to the polls on Tuesday.