Sanders speaks about poverty; Trump still mum

Mental health counselor Candace Layne stocks shelves in the campus food pantry at Mountwest Community and Technical College in Huntington, W.V. Lacey Johnson for Bread for the World

By Stephen H. Padre

It’s been a roller-coaster week in the presidential primaries.

The race for the party’s nomination is over on the Republican side as Donald Trump became the last man standing.

On the Democratic side, the race continues. Sen. Bernie Sanders continues to campaign as hard as ever, even though his chances of winning the nomination are growing slimmer by the week.

The media is curious about why Sanders is remaining in the race for his party’s nomination. One reason is the upcoming primary in West Virginia on May 10. Sanders gave this reason in an interview with NPR yesterday.

“West Virginia has some pockets of the worst poverty in the United States of America,” Sanders said at the outset of the interview.

He continued to talk about poverty, using the state’s McDowell County as an example of what’s happening in the country. Sanders noted that about half the people in the county are living in poverty. The county lies in the heart of Appalachia.

For the past several months, Bread, as a member of the Circle of Protection, has been pushing the presidential candidates to speak about poverty on the campaign trail. The Circle of Protection coalition has formally asked each candidate to produce and submit a short video on how they would offer help and opportunity to hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world as president.

Of the candidates still in the race, only Trump has not responded to the request for such a video. (Watch the videos from Hillary Clinton and Sanders.)

Sanders’ explanation of poverty is the most direct statement he’s made on the topic outside his video submitted to the Circle of Protection, says Rev. Gary Cook. Cook is a former Bread staff member who is helping with its work in the Circle of Protection.

“I think one of the challenges we face, what my campaign is about, is making it clear that the Democratic Party must be on the side of working people and low-income people,” Sanders said. “Now I’m talking about poverty, and in this campaign I’m talking about the fact that we have the highest rate childhood poverty of almost any major country on Earth. That we have 47 million people living in poverty … that we have 29 million people who have no health insurance, and we have thousands of people who die every year because they don’t get to a doctor on time.”

Showing his resoluteness not only for remaining in the race but on the topic, Sanders continued: “…the stand we gotta make is the stand with the people in McDowell County, W.Va., and poor people and working people all over this country.”

Read the full transcript of Sanders’ NPR interview.

Stephen H. Padre is the managing editor at Bread for the World. 

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