Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders pressed his case that Republican front-runner Donald Trump is a divisive "demagogue" and verbally sparred with one of the billionaire's supporters during a pair of boisterous rallies Saturday in Massachusetts that drew overflow crowds.
Taking aim at Trump's proposed ban on Muslims entering the country and his call to deport undocumented immigrants en masse, Sanders urged his crowd to avoid “scapegoating minorities” and instead focus on “bringing people together to address the real issues we face.”
“We all know people are angry and they are upset for a lot of good reasons,” the Vermont senator said. “But what we have got to do is not let Trump and these other people divide us up. Latinos who are picking tomatoes for eight bucks an hour are not the reason that the middle class of this country is disappearing. Muslim kids who are going to schools studying to be engineers are not the reason we have income and wealth inequality.”
Sanders’s appeal in a high school gym here came a couple of hours after he was heckled by a man wearing a Trump T-shirt at another Sanders rally in a packed auditorium at the flagship campus in Amherst of the University of Massachusetts.
As Sanders was rattling off statistics about wealth inequality in the country, the man started yelling “Shame on your Bernie!” from the third row.
“Here’s a Trump supporter worried about Mr. Trump’s money,” Sanders said, prompting boos from the crowd that quickly turned into chants of “Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!”
Donald Trump's most controversial quotes
Donald Trump's most controversial quotes
1/14 On Isis:
"Some of the candidates, they went in and didn’t know the air conditioner didn’t work and sweated like dogs, and they didn’t know the room was too big because they didn’t have anybody there. How are they going to beat ISIS?"
2/14 On immigration:
"I will build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me —and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words."
3/14 On Free Trade:
"Free trade is terrible. Free trade can be wonderful if you have smart people. But we have stupid people."
PAUL J. RICHARDS | AFP | Getty Images
4/14 On Mexicans:
"When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists."
5/14 On China:
"I just sold an apartment for $15 million to somebody from China. Am I supposed to dislike them?... I love China. The biggest bank in the world is from China. You know where their United States headquarters is located? In this building, in Trump Tower."
6/14 On work:
"If you're interested in 'balancing' work and pleasure, stop trying to balance them. Instead make your work more pleasurable."
7/14 On success:
"What separates the winners from the losers is how a person reacts to each new twist of fate."
8/14 On life:
"Everything in life is luck."
9/14 On ambition:
"You have to think anyway, so why not think big?"
10/14 On his opponents:
"Bush is totally in favour of Common Core. I don't see how he can possibly get the nomination. He's weak on immigration. He's in favour of Common Core. How the hell can you vote for this guy? You just can't do it."
11/14 On Obamacare:
"You have to be hit by a tractor, literally, a tractor, to use it, because the deductibles are so high. It's virtually useless. And remember the $5 billion web site?... I have so many web sites, I have them all over the place. I hire people, they do a web site. It costs me $3."
12/14 On Barack Obama:
"Obama is going to be out playing golf. He might be on one of my courses. I would invite him. I have the best courses in the world. I have one right next to the White House."
13/14 On himself:
"Love him or hate him, Trump is a man who is certain about what he wants and sets out to get it, no holds barred. Women find his power almost as much of a turn-on as his money."
14/14 On America:
"The American Dream is dead. But if I get elected president I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before and we will make America great again."
As the man was ushered out of the auditorium, Sanders continued: “I say to Mr. Trump and his supporters that the billionaires in this country will not continue to own this nation.”
In recent weeks, Sanders, who faces Hillary Clinton in the contest for the Democratic nomination, has increasingly used Trump as a foil in his speeches. At the same time, Sanders has tried to make the case that he would better represent the economic interests of working-class Trump supporters than Trump would.
Trump has responded in kind, calling Sanders a “wacko,” among other things.
Massachusetts is among 11 states hold Democratic primaries or caucuses March 1, setting up what could be a pivotal day in the fight for the nomination if Sanders manages to upset Clinton in some of the earlier contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.
At both events Saturday, Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, drew crowds that far exceeded the size of the venue, and overflow areas were set up.
Nearly 3,400 people showed up in Amherst, while 3,000 attended the event here in Worcester, according to Sanders’s campaign.
Aside from the references to Trump, Sanders largely stuck to script, pitching an array of plans that include raising the minimum wage, guaranteeing paid family leave to workers, offering free tuition at public colleges and universities, breaking up the big banks and spending $1 trillion on a jobs program that would rebuild the country’s infrastructure.
Sanders begins a two-day swing through New Hampshire starting Sunday.
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