With just a week until the the Iowa caucus, campaign events in the state have frequently become rousing rallies where the presidential candidates give their typical stump speeches and encourage potential volunteers and caucusgoers to show up and pick a candidate next Monday evening. But a town hall event for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Monday morning in Iowa Falls, Iowa, took on a more somber tone when the candidate asked those in the room who make less than $10,000 annually to share their experiences.
A woman named Carrie Aldrich volunteered, and started to choke up when she said she made less than the figure Sanders mentioned because of disabilities.
"It’s so hard to do anything to pay your bills," Aldrich said. "You are ashamed all the time."
Aldrich said she has been unable, in the past, to buy presents for her children.
"I worked three, four, five jobs sometimes -- always minimum wage," she added. "I have a degree. I’m divorced. I’ve been waiting for disability to come through, so my parents have to support me. It’s just hard."
Sanders thanked Aldrich for sharing her story, something he acknowledged was "not easy."
"But the truth is, until millions of people who are experiencing exactly what you guys are experiencing do say that, we don’t make change," he added. "So I thank you for saying that and for telling us what is going on in your life because the truth is you can’t make it on $12,000. You can’t live with dignity on $10,000 or less."
Sanders went on to criticize Republicans for attempting to cut Social Security and noted that there will be no cost-of-living adjustment for those drawing from the program this year. Sanders has advocated for expanding Social Security and changing the way the cost-of-living adjustments are calculated so seniors are more likely to get raises each year.
Aldrich told The New York Times that she made $5,000 last year, but that she donated $15 to Sanders’ campaign, because she believes he's "for the common person."
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