Pope Francis's visit has been the talk of Washington, but largely not of the presidential campaign—with one notable exception.
Hours before he touched down for the first time in the United States, Pope Francis was welcomed Tuesday by Sen. Bernie Sanders, the rare 2016 contender who has frequently invoked the pontiff and his teachings. The Vermont senator spoke at a D.C. church rally focused on raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. For about five minutes, Sanders addressed a packed house, including some Capitol employees in blue “Strike!” T-shirts carrying posters calling to mind Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation: “SENATORS, INEQUALITY IS THE ROOT OF EVIL."
“Today, as we welcome Pope Francis to the United States and U.S. Capitol, I hope that every member of Congress and the president will heed his call for social and economic justice,” said Sanders.
For months, Sanders has cited the pope more frequently than Hillary Clinton or any of his Republican competitors in his campaign, particularly on social media. According to Zignal Labs, Sanders tweeted about the pope 29 times—about 1 percent of his tweets overall—from May 1 to Sept. 20. Clinton, by contrast, mentioned the pope only twice in that time, one tenth of 1 percent of her overall tweets. (Clinton, in an interview with ABC earlier this month, said she was a “great admirer” of Pope Francis and hoped he would “prick the conscience of everyone” when he gives his speech to Congress Thursday.)