Bernie Sanders makes appearance at CMU, campaigns for Katie McGinty

Senatorial candidate Katie McGinty campaigns  with Bernie Sanders at Carnegie Mellon University. John Hamilton | Staff Photographer

Senatorial candidate Katie McGinty campaigns with Bernie Sanders at Carnegie Mellon University. John Hamilton | Staff Photographer:Amina Doghri / For the Pitt News

Amina Doghri / For the Pitt News

Add Sen. Bernie Sanders to the list of high-profile Democrats lining up behind Katie McGinty.

The former presidential candidate stumped for McGinty, the Democratic Pennsylvania Senate candidate, at Carnegie Mellon University Friday night.

“Our job is to elect Katie, our job is to elect Secretary Clinton our job is to transform the United States of America,” Sanders, D-Va., said.

McGinty, who’s running against standing Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, spoke to a crowd of about 800 people about Planned Parenthood, education reform, environmental protection and equal pay — issues she’s focused on more intensely since the close of the Democratic National Convention in July.

“None of this is politics or academics,” McGinty said about equal pay. “This is about families.”

After a post-DNC bump in the polls, the Pennsylvania Senate race has tightened in recent weeks as out-of-state funding and support pours in.

A Muhlenberg College/Morning Call poll released Sept. 16, for example, placed McGinty five points ahead of Toomey, a lead that’s shrunk since her late July high. In recent weeks, the two candidates have traded leads in the polls ––  as recently as a Sept. 7 Quinnipiac poll, Toomey had a lead over McGinty by one point. Across all polls, McGinty maintains a 0.2 lead, according to Real Clear Politics.

Sanders’ support for McGinty comes after both President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden endorsed her run in March, one month before the April primaries.

Also joining Sanders and McGinty at the event were Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, who ran against McGinty in the primary election, and Pittsburgh City Council member Dan Gilman, who stressed the need for Democratic unity.

Since Sanders lost the Democratic primary, he’s done the same, encouraging his steadfast supporters — including members of the “Bernie or Bust” movement — to get behind the Democratic candidates still in the race.

Andrew Dow, a Pitt first-year majoring in history, said he attended the event primarily for Sanders’ speech but intended to get more familiar with McGinty in the process.

“I came to hear more about her, and [Sanders] also gives a great recommendation,” Dow said.

Some members of the audience didn’t think Sanders’ support for McGinty or Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton came soon enough. 

“Why has Bernie been so quiet till now?” said Alan Colker, 85, of Squirrel Hill. “He’s a popular guy with young people, but now there are more young people supporting the Green Party than the Democrats. He needs to move more people to the Hillary camp.”

Like many Clinton supporters, Pitt alum Larry Kelso, 61, of Shaler, Pennsylvania, worried that without backing from former Sanders supporters, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump might have a chance at winning.

Security confiscated Kelso’s cardboard sign that read, “Trump’s a CON, DON THE CON” outside the event, but his opinion remained strong.

“When push comes to shove, we cannot have Trump,” Kelso said. “[McGinty] stands with the Democratic Party — she’s with Hillary.”

Following the far left rhetoric of Sanders’ campaign, McGinty said that, if elected, she would use her position to shut down the greedy nature of Wall Street and the lack of mobility among social classes.

“Your zip code is not your destiny,” McGinty said.

Sanders followed McGinty by addressing the slowly shrinking middle class as a result of Republican-favored “trickle down economics” ––  an economic belief that if tax breaks are given to top earners in the economy, their extra money will stimulate economic growth and bolster the lower and middle classes.

In reference to this policy, Sanders said, “Enough is enough.”

The Vermont senator also spoke about raising the minimum wage and providing increased legal and health benefits for the LGBTQ+ community. Throughout his speech, Sanders encouraged the crowd, especially young attendees, to get involved in the political process.

“We’re talking about the future of Donald Trump. We are talking about saying ‘no’ to racism and bigotry,” Sanders said. “We are talking about saving this: an economy that works for working people and not just the one percent.”

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