- Associated Press - Thursday, August 6, 2015

SEATTLE (AP) - Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is taking his presidential bid to the West Coast, with rallies planned in the coming days in Seattle, Portland and Los Angeles.

During a conference call Thursday ahead of his Saturday events in Seattle, Sanders said that his focus on issues like the middle class, climate change and criminal justice reform is resonating with voters, and sets him apart from Democratic primary front-runner Hillary Clinton.

“I think there is growing unhappiness with establishment politics, with politics that just nibbles around the edges of issues rather than having courage to tell it like it is,” Sanders said.

In addition to advocating a $15-an-hour minimum wage and raising taxes on the rich, he also supports a massive government-led jobs program to fix roads and bridges, a single-payer health care system, an expansion of Social Security benefits and debt-free college.

Sanders will be at Westlake Park in Seattle Saturday afternoon to speak at a “Social Security Works” rally, followed that evening by a campaign rally at the University of Washington. He is scheduled to hold a Sunday night rally at Portland’s Moda Center, which has a capacity of about 19,000 and is home of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers. The event had originally been scheduled at Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which can handle about 12,000. Sanders heads to an event in Los Angeles on Monday.

Recent polls show Sanders trailing Clinton, but leading the other Democratic candidates. The Democratic National Committee on Thursday unveiled plans to hold six presidential debates starting this fall, with the first scheduled for Oct. 13 in Nevada. So far, Sanders, Clinton, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee are scheduled to participate.

Republicans are set to hold their first nationally televised debate Thursday in Cleveland.

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