‘Poverty is a death sentence,’ Sanders declares during Baltimore stop
John Wagner
BALTIMORE — Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders used a campaign stop Saturday in this economically challenged city to decry the difference between the life expectancies of the nation’s rich and poor, declaring that “poverty is a death sentence.”
“If you are born in Baltimore’s poorest neighborhood, your life expectancy is almost 20 years shorter than if you’re born in its wealthiest neighborhood,” the senator from Vermont said, adding that “15 neighborhoods in Baltimore have lower life expectancies than North Korea. Two of them have a higher infant mortality rate than Palestine's West Bank.”
Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, promised an enthusiastic crowd estimated at 6,600 that if elected president, “we are going to make profound economic changes.”
Sanders’s appearance here ahead of Tuesday’s Democratic primary in Maryland comes as his odds of winning the White House have grown long and could soon grow even longer. Maryland is the site of one of five primaries that Sanders faces on Tuesday against Hillary Clinton, who has regained momentum in the race following her decisive win in New York this past week.
Sanders continued to aggressively press his case Saturday, ticking off his differences with Clinton on issues including the Iraq War, trade, the minimum wage, Social Security expansion and Wall Street reform.
His rally at a downtown arena was his first campaign stop in Baltimore since December, when Sanders toured the impoverished neighborhood that was home to Freddie Gray, the African American man whose death in police custody sparked rioting in the city last year.
Sanders has continued to talk on the campaign trail about his astonishment at the conditions he saw, including many boarded-up homes and a lack of banks and grocery stores.
During his appearance Saturday, Sanders suggested that Baltimore’s challenges were a result of the country’s misplaced priorities.
"How do we always seem to have trillions of dollars for a war in Iraq or elsewhere, but we don’t apparently have the money to rebuild inner cities in America?” he asked.”How do we have money for tax breaks for billionaires, but not money to feed hungry children in Baltimore? Together we are going to change those priorities.”
Sanders has a campaign stop planned Saturday in Delaware, another of the states with primaries on Tuesday, and then plans to return to Baltimore for an evening event.