Feeling The 'Bern,' Idaho Sanders Supporters Rolling The 'Bernie Bus' To Nevada Caucuses
They affectionately call themselves "Bernie B's," "Berners" and even "Sanders' Siblings." A more conventional description would be ardent supporters of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign.
And while advocates for Sanders are anxiously awaiting the Tuesday, March 10 Idaho presidential primary, right now they're helping out their colleagues in preparation for this Saturday's Nevada Caucuses.
Sanders supporters Yara Slaton and Justin Snyder vistied with Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk about how a "Bernie bus" will depart Idaho in the pre-dawn hours on Friday, in preparation for the next day's Nevada Caucuses, and their own "Boise Bernie Fest" at the end of February.
“As someone who grew up in conservative eastern Idaho, I see the plans that Bernie has put forth to revitalize rural America is something that would help out all of the people I grew up with.”
Read the full transcript below:
GEORGE PRENTICE: It's MORNING EDITION on Boise State Public Radio News. Good morning, I'm George Prentice. The much anticipated Nevada caucuses are this Saturday. The race for the White House gains an energy and importance with every passing day. Super Tuesday is in two weeks. The Idaho primaries are in three weeks and we're certain to hear from many of those campaigns in the coming days. Yara Slayton and Justin Snyder are here representing the Bernie Sanders campaign. Good morning.
YARA SLATON: Good morning.
JUSTIN SNYDER: Good Morning.
PRENTICE: I want to talk about Idaho in a moment, but let's talk about Nevada first.
PRENTICE: So I read in the Nevada Independent in regards to your campaign's Get Out the Vote effort and I'll quote here; "For instance one car will start in Twin Falls Idaho pickup voters and jackpot and wells, take them to an early voting site in Elko before reversing the route and ended up back into in vaults that night." Is that what's going on?
SLATON: Absolutely. There are thousands, tens of thousands of volunteers from around the country traveling in order to support the campaign, people that are really committed to getting out the vote. Specifically, a group of our friends is heading there on the Bernie bus. They call it a Bernie bus that's going out of Boise this Friday at three o'clock in the morning to knock doors Friday and Saturday leading up to the to the caucus.
PRENTICE: Now they're heading to Reno?
SNYDER: Yeah, they're going to Reno.
PRENTICE: Well you know your campaign is gaining traction when you start hearing criticism from your opponents. So let's talk about a couple of topics, so much conversation. Let's talk about health care for a moment. Is it Medicare for all or Medicare for anyone who wants it?
SNYDER: As a small business owner, I've been struggling to find affordable health coverage for my employees and Bernie's Medicare for All plan will not only provide better coverage than what's available in our current system, but it will also save me money because it's a universal program. It gives the the single payer the biggest benefit in negotiations for prices.
PRENTICE: And for those who say "I like my plan", what's the answer to that?
SNYDER: You know this plan being universal saves money for everybody. So I can understand liking your current plan, I promise you the Medicare for All plan is more comprehensive and costs you less.
PRENTICE: Let's talk about firearms. Senator Sanders overall support states rights but he does call for a federal ban on the sale and distribution of assault weapons. Idaho does not regulate assault style weapons, so talk to people in Idaho who are somewhere in the middle on this.
SLATON: You know, as a U.S. Army veteran, I understand what a weapon like an AR 15 is designed for. In fact it was my weapon when I was enlisted, it was an M-16. That weapon is designed for a very specific purpose and it is to kill the most people and the shortest amount of time. For that purpose, I don't think that, especially knowing the amount of training that we received to be able to operate that weapon safely, that an untrained civilian should have any need for that for whatever purposes they would need a weapon for. One for that purpose is not necessary for a civilian. And so even as a veteran, and many veterans share the same beliefs, that we should have some common sense regulations on those weapons.
PRENTICE: Well the Idaho primary is Tuesday March 10th. And you've got an event coming up, February 29th.
SLATON: Rain or shine, we're going to be having a we're going to be at the Capital steps February 29th, and we'll march 2 and Morrison, where we'll have an amazing lineup of speakers live music local and immigrant food trucks that you can purchase food from.
SNYDER: We understand that the biggest swing voters that the Bernie Sanders campaign is after, is not necessarily a red to blue swing voter but a non voter to voter. So this march is to help bring more visibility to more people that might not otherwise consider the campaign
SLATON: And we're really excited to be in community with fellow Bernie Bees and hope y'all can join us and-
PRENTICE: I'm sorry, Bernie Bees?
SLATON: Bernie Bees, Berners. There's lots of names!
SNYDER: Sanders sibling.
SLATON: Sanders siblings!
PRENTICE: What's the chance of seeing the candidates between now and the Idaho primary day.
SNYDER: That's a good question, that's something that we don't know-
PRENTICE: But that's it, he did I did recognize Idaho in 2016 and made a point of coming here.
SNYDER: Absolutely. And you know, one thing that I love about Bernie Sanders is that his focus has been on governing the entire nation and bringing all of us together, even in what people think of as flyover states like Idaho. Even if it's not a state that he's likely to win in the general election, he still wants to be the president for all of us and so he doesn't ignore small states like us.
PRENTICE: So can I assume that there's no such thing as a stereotypical Bernie Sanders advocate.
SLATON: I would say yes, I think that there's this myth that there;s like a monolith or a stereotype around one type of Bernie supporter but that's so far from the truth. If you will note in places like Iowa and in New Hampshire, his supporters are from a very diverse group of people. He is extremely popular with young voters, with people of color, with the working class, with blue collar voters, and the demographic is really diverse of his supporters because he talks to the American people.
PRENTICE: It appears as if the primary/caucus season will be a little longer than many people had guessed. I'm assuming that beyond the ideal primary you're still all in and might send some of your energy to other states.
SNYDER: Definitely, I've already been to Iowa this year to knock doors for the Bernie Sanders campaign. Because Idaho is a little earlier this year, the second Super Tuesday they're calling it, I do expect that especially with eight or however many candidates are still in the race right now that it'll keep going for a while. I fully expect that we will continue to support the campaign however we can. You know we've been hosting voter outreach events in Idaho since November o December now for phone banking for door to door canvassing, all kinds of different events.
PRENTICE: I've learned over the years that someone's passion for a candidate is usually personal, so what's your story?
SLATON: You know for me, I'm a single mom who has lived in poverty. I worked full time through going to school full time. I graduated with debt. For me, the fact that I'm also a first generation immigrant and the fact that Bernie Sanders is not that far removed from my story and sees me is very important. You know, he's the son of a first generation immigrant he's Jewish, he understands what it's like to be ostracized because of an identity that you hold. You know, he sees us struggling and he sees the solutions that we need from government. And for me it's very personal that a candidate is not far removed from the American people and I think Bernie Sanders is.
SNYDER: I can say that as someone who grew up in conservative rural eastern Idaho myself, I see the plans that that Bernie has put forward specifically around revitalizing rural America as something that would greatly help out all of the people that I grew up with. And to me it really is personal that that he cares about, like I was talking about earlier cares about people in flyover states, cares about people across the country not just people that can help him in a swing district somewhere.
SLATON: And I'd also like to add, I think for me it's personal on multiple levels, but this is especially close to my heart. When I was 7, I was living in Kuwait during Desert Storm, there's nothing like having bombs going over your head your head at that age, and we lost my father during that war and I was displaced by that war. I came to the U.S. and joined the U.S. Army and sadly my daughter lost her father, and not physically but mentally to Operation Iraqi Freedom as well. So for me a candidate that is a pacifist and takes using military power seriously and understands that responsibility behind that and has a very dove like foreign policy stance is very important to me, we've lost too many lives already.
PRENTICE: She is Yarrow Slaton, he is Justin Snyder. They are with the Bernie Sanders for president campaign. Best of luck to you.
SLATON: Thank you.
Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren
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