Bernie Sanders at Chicago rally: jabs Joe Biden, tells backers to ‘stop complaining and get involved in political process’

In Grant Park, Sanders said, “This campaign is for the working class of this country.”

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Bernie Sanders supporters wait in Grant Park with giant letters spelling “Bernie,” ahead of the Bernie Sanders rally, Saturday, March 7, 2020. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times file

Bernie Sanders jabbed at Joe Biden and urged an adoring youthful crowd at Grant Park on Saturday to get out the vote for him in the March 17 Illinois primary, advising them to tell their friends to “stop complaining and get involved in the political process.”

Sanders said at the top of his remarks “we all understand we are going to get behind the winner,” and then left the unity theme to hit Biden on votes on the Iraq war, Wall Street bailout, trade agreements including NAFTA and the abortion related Hyde amendment.

“This campaign is for the working class of this country,” Sanders said....We have the agenda that will speak to the needs of the working class.”

Earlier in the day, under sunny skies, people arrived at the Petrillo Music Shell in Grant Park for an afternoon rally where Sanders spoke for about an hour. Sanders flew to Chicago from Dearborn, Michigan where he was headlining a get-out-the-vote rally this morning. Michigan votes on Tuesday. The Illinois primary is March 17.


Sen. Bernie Sanders’ supporters fill Grant Park Saturday as he tries to build support for the March 17 Illinois primary.


Meanwhile, according to a posting in Facebook, the Sanders campaign is cancelling a rally scheduled for Tuesday in Rockford “due to scheduling constraints.”

The Tuesday presidential primary votes will be crucial in determining if Sen. Sanders, the Vermont Independent — he is not a member of the Democratic Party — has a viable path ahead or if former Vice President Joe Biden has an insurmountable lead.

According to the Associated Press tally, as of Friday, after voting in 18 states and American Samoa, Biden has won 664 delegates and Sanders has earned 573. It takes 1,991 to nominate a candidate when Democrats hold their convention in Milwaukee this July.

Introducing Sanders as a “transformational leader” was Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill., Sanders’ highest profile Illinois supporter, who is also a national surrogate. In 2016, Chicago’s leading progressives, including Garcia, backed Sanders over Hillary Clinton and Clinton only narrowly won Illinois. Clinton had 79 delegates to 77 for Sanders.

Sanders jumped in the 2015 mayoral contest backing Garcia, who was defeated by now former Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Also speaking in Grant Park, where the band shell was decorated with a giant American flag: the United Electrical Workers Carl Rosen; Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th); state Sen. Robert Peters, D-Chicago; Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th); Martese Chism of National Nurses United and Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Stacy Davis Gates. Tommies Reunion Choir also performed.

Biden had a big Illinois day on Friday. With the endorsements of Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., he has locked in a crucial block of elected Democratic officials.


Grant Park hosted the Nov. 4, 2008 victory celebration of then President-elect Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Jill Biden and Vice President-elect Joe Biden.

Sanders hit Chicago during his official 2020 campaign kickoff last year. Sanders started his second bid for the White House reminding voters about his biography. Born in Brooklyn, Sanders attended Brooklyn College for one year before transferring to the University of Chicago, where he earned his undergraduate degree in 1964. Sanders was the first 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to hold a public event in Illinois.


A member of Bernie Sanders staff gives a mic check at the podium, ahead of the Bernie Sanders rally, in Grant Park, Saturday, March 7, 2020. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Gallery: Scenes from the rally

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