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Bernie Sanders to pitch populist agenda to coal county

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Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said on Sunday that he will travel to struggling McDowell County, West Virginia, on Monday to pitch his agenda on issues such as health care, jobs and education.

“They have been abandoned by everybody. This is a county where life expectancy is actually going down. People are living shorter lives than their parents. Unemployment is rampant. Healthcare and education inadequate,” Sanders told “Face the Nation” moderator John Dickerson.

“The point of going to McDowell County is to make the point that all over rural America, not just in West Virginia, people have been ignored for too long,” he added. 

McDowell County voted overwhelmingly Republican in the 2016 election. According to Politico, President Donald Trump garnered about 75 percent of the popular vote there.

Sanders will attempt to reconcile his progressive proposals with conservative voters next week and talk about infrastructure investments, an issue that Mr. Trump, too, has promised to tackle.

“We need major investments and decent jobs in parts of the area where unemployment is so high,” Sanders said on the program.

Sanders will also likely tout benefits established through Obamacare to a Republican-dominated legislature, which just introduced its own health-care vision last week, the American Health Care Act, which has received mixed reviews among members of the GOP. 

“We need to focus on health care. And by the way, the Republican plan would devastate rural America especially states like West Virginia and Kentucky, which have done quite well in lowering the number of uninsured because of the Affordable Care Act,” Sanders said.

This will not be the Vermont senator’s first visit to McDowell County, where unemployment has spiked in over the decades, even between national economic booms and rock-bottoms. 

In May 2016, Sanders made a campaign stop at a food bank in Kimball, West Virginia, where he pitched a subsidy bill for Appalachia communities left in the cold by the dissolution of fossil-fuel jobs. 

Sanders attempted to distance himself then and establish a variance between himself and another party leader, Hillary Clinton, amidst a competitive Democratic primary.

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