Democratic presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are neck and neck in Iowa and Sanders is ahead in New Hampshire. Voting on who will run for the party begins next week.
Ahead of the Iowa caucus next Monday, Bernie Sanders told an audience at a university in Des Moines his message to battle income inequality and Wall Street was "touching a nerve" among Democratic voters.
While still trailing behind Clinton 52 to 38 percent nationwide, according to a CNN/ORC poll, the independent Vermont senator is experiencing a surge in popularity. In Iowa, Sanders is nearly tied with Clinton and in New Hampshire, which holds a primary on February 9, he appears to have a clear lead.
In Iowa on Monday, Sanders continued to strike a familiar tone as he rallied against the excesses of Wall Street and the concentration of wealth at the top at the expense of working families.
"We cannot continue to have a government dominated by the billionaire class and a Congress that continues to work for the interest of the people on top while ignoring working families," he said, fuming that the top 0.1 percent of Americans owns as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.
A self-described democratic socialist, the 74-year-old Sanders said he would provide universal healthcare, build infrastructure and involve the government in helping students pay for college.
Not radical ideas
Sander's message has won him support from younger voters, but some view his message as too radical to sell to a nationwide audience. But Sanders brushed off those concerns in response to a question from the audience.
"In countries around the world, in Scandinavia and Germany, the ideas that I am talking about are not radical ideas," said Sanders.
"In my view, we need a political revolution where millions of people stand up and say, 'You know what? That great government of ours belongs to all of us, not just the few," he said.
Sanders also leveled criticism at the former secretary of state and New York Senator Clinton for her support of the Iraq war and Keystone pipeline.
"Experience is important, but judgment is also important," Sanders said.
Clinton talks experience
Clinton has peddled her diplomatic experience as strength despite some questionable calls in Iraq and Libya.
Clinton, who appeared separately on Monday to face questions in Des Moines, said that she is still a better candidate with experience on a broad array of issues.
"I believe that I'm the better person to be the Democratic nominee, and to be the president," she said, adding that President Barack Obama chose her to be secretary of state "because he trusted my judgment and we worked side by side over those four years."
Clinton said she has also fought against income inequality, but in the end, Sander's platform, while praiseworthy, is too narrow and unachievable.
"When you're in the White House you cannot pick the issues you want to work on, you've got to be ready to take on every issue that comes your way, including those you cannot predict," Clinton said at another event with the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines on Monday.
cw/jil (AFP, AP, Reuters)