Flint — Bernie Sanders brought his Democratic presidential campaign here Thursday to give a national voice to those affected by the contaminated water crisis 12 days before Michigan’s primary.
Sanders took valuable time to campaign in Michigan instead of South Carolina, where there is a primary on Saturday.
“I hope people will look at Flint and say: Never again,” the U.S. senator from Vermont said during a campaign event at the Woodside Church. “We have seven beautiful grandchildren. And to hear what is happening in children in this community is so horrific, it is so painful, it is hard to discuss.”
Sanders held an hour-long, freewheeling discussion with nearly 350 audience members and supporters — many of whom waited hours in the cold to see him. Some sprang up from the pews to answer leading questions from Sanders, who is battling Hillary Clinton for the nomination.
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The national profile that Flint has gained in the past two months has drawn attention to other communities where lead exposure and lead poisoning also are problems.
“While Flint may be the canary in the coal mine, there are a lot of other canaries,” Sanders said. “… I once again hope that out of the tragedy will come fundamental changes in cities and towns all across this country.”
Sanders called the Flint lead problem “one of the more serious public health crisis in the modern history of this country” and wondered aloud, “how could it happen?” He again called for Gov. Rick Snyder to resign.
Snyder has apologized for crisis and vowed to fix it.
Sanders and Clinton have made Flint’s water contamination ground zero for their campaigns in Michigan. They are trying to fire up their party’s liberal base who are upset with Snyder’s handling of the crisis.