Watch: Bernie Sanders Says Iowa is Beginning of a "Political Revolution"

February 02, 2016
Web Exclusive

The Iowa caucus ended in a virtual tie between Hillary Clinton and rival Sen. Bernie Sanders. Watch the full speech Sanders gave after the election results came in.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Iowa, thank you! Nine months ago, we came to this beautiful state. We had no political organization. We had no money. We had no name recognition. And we were taking on the most powerful political organization in the United States of America. And tonight, while the results are still not known, it looks like we are in a virtual tie. And while—

AUDIENCE: Bernie! Bernie! Bernie! Bernie! Bernie! Bernie! Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: And while the results are still not complete, it looks like we’ll have about half of the Iowa delegates.

I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Secretary Clinton, as somebody—yeah—and her organization for waging a very vigorous campaign. And I want to thank Governor O’Malley. It’s never easy to lose. I’ve lost more than one campaign. But he should know—he should know that he contributed a whole lot to the dialogue, that he ran an issue-oriented campaign, and he won the respect of the American people.

As I think about what happened tonight, I think the people of Iowa have sent a very profound message to the political establishment, to the economic establishment and, by the way, to the media establishment.

AUDIENCE: Feel the Bern! Feel the Bern! Feel the Bern! Feel the Bern! Feel the Bern!

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: That is—that is, given the enormous crises facing our country, it is just too late for establishment politics and establishment economics. What the American people have said—and, by the way, I hear this not just from progressives, I hear it from conservatives, I hear it from moderates—and that is, we can no longer continue to have a corrupt campaign finance system. I am the former chairman of the Senate Veterans Committee, and in that capacity, not only have I worked hard to try to protect the interests of our veterans, I’ve had the privilege of meeting so many men and women who put their lives on the line to defend us and protect our way of life. And what they were protecting is an American democracy of one person, one vote, not billionaires buying elections.

I am overwhelmed and I am moved by the fact that millions of people throughout this country have helped volunteer in our campaign, that three—we have received in this campaign three-and-a-half million individual contributions, people who went to And you know what the average contribution was? It was $27! We do not represent the interests of the billionaire class, Wall Street or corporate America. We don’t want their money. We will—and I am very proud to tell you that we are the only candidate on the Democratic side without a super PAC.

And the reason that we have done so well here in Iowa, the reason I believe we’re going to do so well in New Hampshire and in the other states that follow, the reason is the American people are saying no to a rigged economy. They no longer want to see an economy in which the average American works longer hours for low wages, while almost all new income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent.

What the American people understand is this country was based and is based on fairness. On fairness. It is not fair when the top one-tenth of 1 percent today owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. It is not fair when the 20 wealthiest people in this country own more wealth than the bottom half of America. So are you guys ready for a radical idea? Well, so is America. And that radical idea is: We are going to create an economy that works for working families, not just the billionaire class.

And yes, when millions of our people are working for starvation wages, we are going to raise the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour. And yes, we are going to have pay equity for women. I have been all over this beautiful state of Iowa. We have spoken to some 70,000 people. And in meeting after meeting, I hear people standing up, and they say, "Bernie, I went to college. I graduated college. Now I am $60,000, $80,000, $90,000 in debt." That is crazy. That is crazy. People should not be punished financially because they want to get a decent education. And that is why I believe that in the year 2016 public colleges and universities should be tuition-free.

Then my critics say, "Well, Bernie, that’s a great idea. It’s all this free stuff. How are you going to pay for it?" I will tell you how we’re going to pay for it: We are going to impose a tax on Wall Street speculation. The greed, the recklessness and the illegal behavior of Wall Street drove this economy to its knees. The American people bailed out Wall Street. Now it’s Wall Street’s time to help the middle class.

And when we talk about transforming America, we will end the disgrace of having more people in jail than any other country, disproportionately African-American and Latino. What we are going to do is provide jobs and education for our kids, not more jails and incarceration.

I’ll tell you something that really does astound me. I’m on the Senate Energy Committee. I’m on the Senate Environmental Committee. I have talked to scientists all over the world. The debate is over: Climate change is real. And we have a moral responsibility to work with countries throughout the world to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy. And what amazes me, what totally amazes me, is that we have not one Republican candidate for president prepared to come up and tell us and agree with what virtually all scientists agree with. And you know why they are not prepared to do that? Because on the day that they do acknowledge the reality of climate change and call for change, you know what happens? They’re going to lose their campaign funds from the Koch brothers and the fossil fuel industry. So I say to the Republicans: Stop worrying about your campaign funds from Big Oil or the Koch brothers or the coal industry; worry about the planet you’re going to be leaving your children and your grandchildren.

Now, I have been criticized during this campaign for many, many things, every single day. That’s OK. That’s OK. But—but let me repeat what I believe. I believe that in a time when every major country on Earth guarantees healthcare to all people as a right, that I believe that we should do the same in the United States of America. So, for all of my critics out there—The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post and in corporate America, wherever you may be—let me tell you straight up: Yes, I believe that healthcare is a right, not a privilege! And that is why I believe in a Medicare-for-all, single-payer program, which will not only guarantee healthcare to all, it will not only end the pharmaceutical ripoff of the American people, but it will save the middle-class family, average middle-class family, thousands of dollars a year in healthcare costs.

Let me conclude by saying what no other candidate for president will tell you. And that is that no president—not Bernie Sanders, not anybody else—will be able to bring about the changes that the working families and the middle class of this country, that our children, that the seniors, our seniors, deserve. No one president can do it, because the powers that be—Wall Street, with their endless supply of money; corporate America; the large campaign donors—are so powerful that no president can do what has to be done alone.

And that is why—and that is why what Iowa has begun tonight is a political revolution, a political revolution that says when millions of people come together, including those who have given up on the political process—they’re so dismayed and so frustrated with what goes on in Washington—with young people who before had never been involved in the political process, when young people and working people and seniors begin to stand up and say loudly and clearly, "Enough is enough," that our government, the government of our great country, belongs to all of us and not just a handful of billionaires—when that happens, we will transform this country. Thank you all very much.

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