Bernie Sanders’s Message Resonates With a Certain Age Group: His Own

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from The New York Times,

Fit and quick-witted at age 73, Senator Bernie Sanders was still going strong after speaking for an hour in 90-degree heat on Wednesday when he fielded a question from a man who could have been an older brother.

“Would you raise the top marginal tax rate to over 90 percent, as it was in the 1950s, when the middle class and the economy were doing so well?” asked Milt Lauenstein, 89, who had the same white hair and hunched posture as Mr. Sanders.

“You mean under the communist Dwight D. Eisenhower?” Mr. Sanders quipped about the former president, who, of course, was a Republican, but one who did not oppose high taxes as fiercely as party leaders do now.

It is not every day in 2015 that an Ike joke gets a laugh, but Mr. Sanders landed the line perfectly — at least for the roughly 50 older people in the crowd of 200 who came out to meet the candidate in a backyard here. It was the latest Sanders event to draw a sizable number of registered voters who share not only Mr. Sanders’s cultural reference points but also his age group.

Mr. Sanders, an independent from Vermont, is running an insurgent’s campaign for the Democratic nomination for president, but to spend time with him on the trail is almost to travel back in time: He sprinkles his remarks with “50 years ago” or “40 years ago” as he reminds his audiences of the progress in the United States on race relations or gay rights.

At one point during his remarks in Epping, Mr. Sanders drew a “yes” from Nina Capra Jordan when he commented that back in the first half of the 20th century, the University of California campuses, City College of New York and other elite institutions charged little or no tuition. (Mr. Sanders wants to eliminate tuition at public universities nationwide and pay for it largely with revenue from taxes on Wall Street stock trades.)

Older voters seem to be responding. Some, facing financial strains now, seem especially drawn to the senator’s evoking of an earlier era’s more generous government and strong safety net.

“He’s like F.D.R.,” Marlene Gilman, 80, whispered excitedly in Concord, N.H., as Mr. Sanders pledged to create more jobs through a trillion-dollar public works program — a plan that echoes President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.

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