Bernie Sanders, who is on a tour of college campuses campaigning for his former rival, Hillary Clinton, was in Iowa over the weekend. And in a moment that illustrated just how hard it’s been for Clinton to win over millennial voters still feeling the proverbial Bern, an Iowa State University student introducing the Vermont senator had to be escorted from the stage for trashing the Democratic nominee.
Kaleb Vanfosson, a sophomore political science major and president of the school’s Students for Bernie club, began his speech talking about student debt.
“While the part-time reality star and full-time bigot Donald Trump thinks that hard-working immigrants are what’s wrong with our country, he fails to even talk about this issue,” Vanfosson said. “But unfortunately, Hillary doesn’t care about this issue either.”
Big banks, the military-industrial complex and “her good friend Henry Kissinger” are “the only ones that can trust Hillary,” he said, drawing applause.
“She is so trapped in the world of the elite that she has completely lost grip of what it’s like to be an average person,” Vanfosson continued as campaign staffers could be seen scrambling near the side of the stage. “She doesn’t care. Voting for the lesser of two evils? There’s no point.”
Vanfosson was then forcibly removed from the stage. (He told the Iowa State Daily that he was “basically assaulted” while being escorted out of the hall.)
Since defeating Sanders in the Democratic primary, Clinton has struggled at times to convince some younger voters who were enamored with the self-described democratic socialist’s progressive message — and skeptical of her pragmatic approach and ties to Wall Street.
Sanders formally endorsed Clinton two weeks before the Democratic National Convention and succeeded in getting some of his progressive causes on the party’s platform. Although polls show that anywhere from 55 percent to 90 percent of Sanders supporters plan to vote for Clinton, those like Vanfosson remain unconvinced.
Sanders, for his part, urged them to look beyond the personalities of the major-party candidates.
“We’re not running here for class president of the local high school,” he said during his speech. “This is not a popularity contest.”
“You don’t like Hillary Clinton? You don’t like Donald Trump? Fine,” Sanders continued. “You like yourself? Get beyond personality; that means taking a hard look at what the candidates stand for.”
“This is what I want to suggest to you in the strongest possible terms,” he added. “Please, do not sit it out. This is something that if you sit out, and if Donald Trump wins this state by a few votes, and if those few votes and those electoral votes make him president of the United States, there’s a lot of people who are going to be dealing with that reality for the rest of their lives.”