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Why Some Ohioans Are Supporting Bernie Sanders

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Why Some Ohioans Are Supporting Bernie Sanders

Politics

Why Some Ohioans Are Supporting Bernie Sanders

Why Some Ohioans Are Supporting Bernie Sanders

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Ohio voters head to the polls on Tuesday. Rick Kepler, a retired union worker in Ohio, tells NPR's Rachel Martin why he plans to vote for Bernie Sanders.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Democrats are also in Ohio campaigning. Senator Bernie Sanders is feeling some momentum after his surprise victory over Hillary Clinton in Michigan. Now, he heads to Ohio where some of the same economic issues are driving the conversation there. We're going to hear from one Ohio voter now. He's 66-year-old Rick Kepler, a retired teamster organizer. He told us one of his local unions recently held a mock election. Half of the members supported Donald Trump. The other half, 2 to 1, backed Bernie Sanders. I asked him why Sanders has his vote.

RICK KEPLER: For the first time in my life, I heard a presidential candidate say that it's not the Russians or the Islamists or debt or some other thing that's causing the problems of the working people of this country. He came right out and said what it is. He said it's corporate America. It's Wall Street. It's the 1 percent.

MARTIN: And you don't feel that Hillary Clinton is on the same page.

KEPLER: Well, Bill Clinton was not a very good friend of labor - all those trade agreements, the Glass-Steagall Act and other things that Bill Clinton did. I knew then that they had created a right turn on the Democratic Party, what we call the corporate wing of the Democratic Party. She's campaigning to the left, as all the establishment Democrats do, but I believe that once she's in office, she too will then govern according to the needs of Wall Street before she takes care of the people on Main Street.

MARTIN: Bernie Sanders has been in the halls of Congress for a long time. Have you seen evidence that these are issues he has moved the needle on?

KEPLER: He's been consistently principled on his positions whether it's in foreign affairs or, you know, what he talked about the last debate about what happened in - when Reagan was attacking the common folks in Latin America. And so I think as a Democratic socialist, he's a lot closer to the ideas that I believe in. We do need Medicare for all. It should be a right in this country and not a commodity that can be sold.

MARTIN: But let me ask you about that because this country went through a pretty vicious fight over Obamacare. And the House has repeatedly tried to get it rolled back. So what makes you think a candidate who wants a single-payer system could win in a general election on that kind of platform?

KEPLER: What he's doing is making us take a look at issues the corporate media just hides under the rug. What he's saying is - if you want to see these changes, you better have this political revolution and start talking about this. Don't forget Occupy. They're the first ones who drew attention to the 1 percent, and then they got crushed. But he's resurrected it.

MARTIN: Let me ask you, though. You clearly know the issues. You study the political map, I'm sure, so you know that Bernie Sanders has a tough path to the nomination right now.

KEPLER: Absolutely.

MARTIN: Let's say Hillary Clinton wins the nomination and she's running against Donald Trump. What does that internal calculus look like for you?

KEPLER: We have to support that. We have to make sure Trump does not grab the presidency of the United States of America. Won't be no full-fledged, boy, let's get Hillary in and things will change because we've got a few social issues that she'll stand up for. But when it comes to challenging Wall Street, nope, that's not going to happen.

MARTIN: Rick Kepler, he joined us on the line from his home outside of Akron, Ohio. He is a supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders. Rick, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us.

KEPLER: Rachel, thanks for the opportunity.

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