Sanders speaks in Hibbing, meets steelworkers and Native American leaders


Bernie Sanders brought his campaign message of wage inequality and health care overhauls to Minnesota's Iron Range Friday, but also used time to address the region's struggling mining industry and Native American communities.

The Vermont Senator, an independent running as a Democratic candidate for president, spoke to a crowd that filled the auditorium at Hibbing High School.

The Pioneer Press called it "customized" for the audience, with Sanders speaking about unions, jobs and minimum wage laws.

Sanders meets with steelworkers, Native American leaders

Before the speech at Hibbing High School, Sanders met with two groups:

First, about a dozen Chippewa leaders, where they discussed topics including the often dire economic situation on reservations, poor access to health care services, and drug abuse, according to the Washington Post pool reporter at the event.

The Hibbing Daily Tribune reports Sanders then met with a group of local United Steelworkers. They discussed international trade deals (such as NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, both of which Sanders says he is against), and how it's impacting Minnesota mine workers, the pool report says.

While on stage, he wore a Local 1938 jacket they gave him, which you can see here.

Minnesota's Iron Range has been hit by nearly 2,000 layoffs, as steel prices worldwide have plummeted.

Countries such as China and India have been accused of producing cheap steel, then selling it for a very low price. Some of it has ended up in the U.S. – meaning there’s less of a demand for steel made by companies here in the states. (The New York Times explored the problem in-depth in this article.)

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama said he's preparing to sign a bill that will allow officials to take more aggressive action against the action (often referred to as "dumping.")

Sanders' focus on Minnesota

Sanders will be competing for a share of Minnesota's 77 Democratic delegates up for grabs during next Tuesday's caucuses – though Hillary Clinton will be trying to do the same. Candidates need a total of 2,382 delegates to be the official Democratic party nominee.

The Sanders campaign has targeted Minnesota, viewing it as a state the self-described Democratic socialist can do well in – Politico dug into the thinking earlier this month. Both he and Clinton are also running ads in the state right now, urging Minnesotans to caucus for them.

And Sanders is continuing his North Star State push – he'll be in Rochester Saturday for a rally, the campaign announced. It'll be at the Exhibit Hall at Mayo Civic Center, and address many of the major themes Sanders frequently discusses (including big money in politics, free and affordable college, and more).

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the event is free – but RSVPs are suggested, as it's first come first serve.

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