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Bernie Sanders

As he continues to rise in polls in battleground states, Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders is pursuing an essential voting bloc: Evangelical Christians.

CNN reports that the Vermont senator on Monday took his stump speech to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, where he addressed wealth inequality and the hot-button issues of same-sex marriage and abortion, noting that he and the capacity crowd of nearly 12,000 disagreed on the last two topics.

He also continued to hammer away at overcoming America’s racist past.

Via CNN:

During a question-and-answer session after the speech, Sanders was asked what he would do to end racism.

“I would hope and I believe that every person in this room today understands that it is unacceptable to judge people, to discriminate against people based on the color of their skin,” Sanders said to applause.

He then added, “And I would also say that as a nation — the truth is, that a nation which in many ways was created, and I’m sorry to have to say this, from way back on racist principles, that’s a fact — we have come a long way as a nation.”

Indeed, some people in the audience met Sanders’ “self-described socialist’s economic and social agenda” with enthusiasm, but those supporters were “decidedly in the minority,” CNN writes.

Once viewed as the underdog in the race for the nomination against front-runner Hillary Clinton, Sanders has been rising in national polls in important early primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire, according to a new CBS/YouGov poll released Sunday.

The surge comes as Clinton continues to weather fallout over her use of a private email server as secretary of state. But the Clinton campaign hopes to create distance between her and other contenders before the first primary in March. Sanders, however, does not appear to be giving up.

SOURCE: CNN, CBS/YouGov | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty | VIDEO CREDIT: NDN

SEE ALSO:

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