Nurses union picks Sanders over Clinton
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Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump trade deal likely to sow division in Democratic presidential field Buttigieg says he doubts consulting work for insurer led to layoffs Trump supporters at Pa. rally 'upset' after Democrats introduce impeachment articles MORE (I-Vt.), a Democratic presidential candidate, snatched his first major union endorsement on Monday from the nation's largest organization of nurses.

"Year after year, I have been proud to work with National Nurses United fighting to expand Medicare, fighting to address the nursing shortage in this country and fighting to make sure that nurses at the VA and all over this country have the right to collectively bargain for decent wages and benefits," Sanders said Monday in a statement.

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Sanders's endorsement from National Nurses United, which represents nearly 190,000 nurses — most of whom are women — comes as he battles Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton.

"I am sponsored by you," Sanders said in a speech met with an eruption of "Bernie" chants in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, after hitting other candidates he says are supported by big money.

The Vermont senator vowed as president to make it a national priority to train more nurses.

He also touted his efforts on a range of issues including tuition-free college — on the very day Clinton unveiled her debt-free tuition proposal — and pushed for a first-class childcare system.

"I think Bernie Sanders is the only politician I really love," the group's Co-President Deborah Burger said.

Flanked by nurses from the group, Sanders blended his message of income inequality with a call for more Americans to have a "right" to healthcare, prescription drugs and affordable college.

"As we go forward, it is imperative that we think big, not small," Sanders said.

The self-described democratic socialist said there has been a redistribution of wealth in the U.S., but it "has gone in the wrong direction," calling for the money to be brought back "to the middle class."

"This is the wealthiest country in the history of the world, but nobody knows it because almost all of the wealth rests in the hands of the few," Sanders said.

Sanders stood out for his efforts with income inequality as well as his vocal opposition to President Obama's proposed trade deal between the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim nations, the nurses union leaders said.

One official told BuzzFeed that the group also endorsed Sanders in part because of Clinton's continued refusal to voice a position on the Keystone XL Pipeline.

The American Federation of Teachers announced its support for Clinton last month.

It is unclear if the larger AFL-CIO will throw its support behind either candidate during the primary season.