JAISAL NOOR, TRNN: On Sunday, a crowd of over 1,000 people packed a college gymnasium in Portsmouth, New Hampshire to hear Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speak, just two days before the first primary of the election season. Sanders stressed the need for a powerful political movement to counter the corporate domination of politics.
BERNIE SANDERS: The first point that I want to make with you, as all of you know: real change never comes from the top on down. It comes from the bottom on up.
NOOR: He also hammered away on his message of decrying concentrated wealth and power in the hands of the elite that prevent social change.
SANDERS: The concept, the concept of political revolution, that’s just not rhetoric, it’s reality. And here’s what it is. Right now, as I think many of you know–the media doesn’t talk about it terribly often. But you have a situation where a relatively small number of people, people on Wall Street who have literally endless supplies of money, those people have enormous wealth and enormous power. No president can walk in there and make the changes unless millions of people become engaged in the political process in a way that we have not seen for a very, very long time.
NOOR: He added Americans need to challenge this elite power to take back their democracy.
SANDERS: Our most important task is to revitalize American democracy, is to bring people into the political process, is the [inaud.] certain that we have a means by which the needs of the people filter on up top. And when we do that, we change America.
NOOR: We asked New Hampshire supporter Mary Downs about why she backs Sanders.
MARY DOWNS: I think he, I think it’s the same appeal he has for everybody across the country, is that he’s, he’s speaking the truth. He’s clearly not, you know, beholden to the, to the powers that be in a way that almost every other candidate kind of has to be, given our political system and the, and the economic system and the way campaigns are, are funded. So the, the, you know–3 million small donations, $27 apiece, I mean, that is because people are recognizing that he’s speaking–he’s speaking truth to what is actually going on out there.
NOOR: We spoke to her about her thoughts on Sanders’ strong poll numbers in New Hampshire, a state that traditionally supports establishment candidates in the Democratic primary.
DOWNS: And I think, you know, New Hampshire–we’re all pretty savvy about how the political process works. And we see every single candidate that comes through here every four years. And we know how to listen and we know how to ask questions, we know how to read between the lines, and hear the BS, right. So I think Bernie is really refreshing, because he’s not, he’s not doing the regular thing of blah, blah, blah. I mean, yeah, it means his stump speech, and he’s saying the same thing. But what he’s saying is actually true. You know, people get that. And they’re–so I don’t know that it’s necessarily the economic issue, per se, as the system is kind of corrupt. And we all know that, and nobody’s had the guts to say that in this kind of political campaign before.
NOOR: Downs explains why she rejects the notion that Hillary Clinton is a progressive candidate.
DOWNS: The Clintons came out of the whole DLC movement. You know, they established, essentially, the Democratic Leadership Council, which was the right wing of the Democratic party, back when Jesse Jackson was in the party and was trying to really carve out a more leftist position. So I think that Bernie’s analysis, my analysis, whatever it matters, is that the Clintons aren’t necessarily the progressive wing of the Democratic party and never have been.
NOOR: We spoke to college student Shanya Henckel-Miller about her support for Bernie.
SHANYA HENCKEL-MILLER: I think that Bernie is a better candidate for young people. Like I said, he looks to the future. And as a feminist, I think that feminism is about all women, not just white upper middle-class women. And Bernie is about racial equality, you know, economic equality, and, like, LGBT rights, all of that. And all those women need to be included in our feminism if we’re going to call ourselves feminists.
NOOR: Very famous feminist Gloria Steinem had some choice words for, for Bernie supporters that are women. They say they are supporting Bernie so they can–because they can attract boys, basically.
GLORIA STIENEM: Men tend to get more conservative because they gain power as they age, and women get more radical because they lose power as they age. So it’s, it’s kind of not fair to measure most women by the standard of most men, because they’re going to get more activists as they grow older, and when you’re young you’re thinking, you know, where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie, or you know–.
NOOR: How do you respond to that?
HENCKEL-MILLER: I don’t think I need to respond to that. I mean, I think I’m a pretty educated person. I’ve been keeping up with the, what’s been going on in this election, these campaigns. And being, you know, informed about both candidates and how they feel about different policies. I agree with Bernie, and I think that’s a good reason to support him.
NOOR: We also spoke to Clinton supporter Christine Carthage about why she attended Sanders’ speech.
CHRISTINE CARTHAGE: But now I think she is the one that does have ideals that are very grounded. And she has step by step been working towards making changes in healthcare, in women’s rights, in pay equality, in all sorts of things.
NOOR: We also asked her about her support for Clinton’s foreign policy and her ties to the big banks.
How would you compare the two candidates as far as foreign policy?
CARTHAGE: The former Secretary of State, her background, I mean, that’s it. It’s hers. She’s got, she’s got my vote based on that, too.
NOOR: So did you support the Iraq war?
CARTHAGE: No. And she came around to not supporting it either.
NOOR: And people would point to things like the intervention in Libya, which has been a complete disaster. That’s–so as one of the things that Bernie Sanders supporters were saying, that she has experience, but look at some of where that experience has led, right. So events in Libya, through her tenure we supported the brutal dictatorship in Egypt when it was cracking down on human rights activists. And so how do you respond to this type of criticism? She has experience, but it’s taken us in the wrong path.
CARTHAGE: I think that they’re valid criticisms. I trust, like other people, that she’s learned a lot from mistakes in the past.
NOOR: And I guess what–Sanders’ main overarching argument is that he is super-critical of the power and influence of money over politics. And so a lot has been made of the fact that Hillary’s gotten money, speaking fees, from places like Goldman Sachs. And you know, even under Obama’s tenure they haven’t gone to jail. Can you think–is that an issue, do you think she’s too close to Wall Street?
CARTHAGE: Well, fact check about what she recently said about checking her voting record to see if any of the money that she’s ever gotten has affected one single vote. Just check that out.
NOOR: So there was a bankruptcy bill in the early 2000s, and this is from Elizabeth Warren, actually. And in her book she noted that before she became–she got into the Senate, she got into office, she got a lot of money from Wall Street, and she actually changed her position on that.
CARTHAGE: Well, I didn’t know that. I’ll look into it. Thanks, so we can both learn.
NOOR: Thanks so much.
CARTHAGE: Thank you.
NOOR: We’ll continue our coverage of the New Hampshire primary Monday and Tuesday with livestream coverage. Go to TheRealNews.com for all the details. From New Hampshire, this is Jaisal Noor for the Real News.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.