- Associated Press - Monday, July 6, 2015

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Calling income inequality “the great moral issue of our time,” Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders urged a boisterous crowd of thousands in Maine on Monday to help him transform America by restoring a thriving middle class.

In a wide-ranging speech before more than 7,500 in Portland, Sanders stressed the need to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, reform the criminal justice system and give workers at least two weeks of paid vacation time.

The Vermont senator, who hopes to defeat front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic primary, called the level of economic inequality across the country “grotesque” and “immoral.”

But the self-described socialist said he cannot bring about change alone and called on the crowd to stand behind him as he tries to take on the “greed” of Wall Street and corporate America.

“When the people stand together, there is nothing we cannot accomplish,” he said.

While Clinton remains the favorite, Sanders has been drawing large crowds across the country. He said that voters understand that “establishment politics and establishment economics isn’t working for the middle class.”

“All over America, people are becoming involved in this campaign because they want change,” he said.

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