Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders stopped short of saying the DNC election process was rigged, but did say the system for electing party leadership could use some retooling. Sanders talked to CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday's edition of State of the Union:
JAKE TAPPER: So, let's turn now to former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who backed Perez's opponent and now the deputy chair of the DNC, Keith Ellison.
Senator Sanders, thanks so much for joining us this morning.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: My pleasure.
TAPPER: So, let's start with yesterday's big vote at the DNC.
You obviously strongly backed Congressman Ellison. He lost the race to former Labor Secretary Tom Perez. You issued a statement saying -- quote -- "At a time when Republicans control the White House, the U.S. House, U.S. Senate and two-thirds of all statehouses, it is imperative that Tom Perez understands that the same-old, same-old is not working."
So, Senator, did the same-old, same-old win?
SANDERS: Well, look, Keith ran a great campaign.
He took on, in essence, Democratic insiders, and yet he came close to winning. That was a very impressive effort, when you realize that he was playing inside the establishment's house.
But, right now, I think, Tom Perez, who was a very, very good secretary of labor, has a real opportunity in his hands. And I hope he seizes it. And that is to understand that, in fact, the way the Democratic Party has been run for decades has not worked.
We need a total transformation. We have got to open up the party to working people, to young people, and make it crystal clear that the Democratic Party is going to take on Wall Street, it's going to take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, it's going to take on corporate America that is shutting down plants in this country and moving our jobs abroad.
The idea that Trump thinks that the Republican Party is going to be the party of working people, when he has appointed people to his administration who want to cut Social Security, want to cut Medicare, want to cut Medicaid, or who want to provide a budget which will give huge tax breaks to billionaires like Trump, and then cut back on education and health care for the American people, if that's a party that stands for working people, God help us all.
SANDERS: So, I think our job now is to rally the grassroots to take Trump on and to fight for a progressive agenda.
TAPPER: Well, you saw President Trump's tweet suggesting that the system was rigged against Keith Ellison, in the same way that the DNC system was rigged against you in the primaries.
Does he have a point?
SANDERS: No, he doesn't have a point.
That's what the system is. And one of the things that Tom is going have to change is to figure out how we elect national Democratic leaders. I'm not quite impressed with the process that now exists.
But the bottom line here right now is that, yesterday, among other things, there were 150 rallies all across this country, most of them in front of Republican congressional offices, where citizens of this country are telling their members of Congress, have the guts to come out and meet with us. Explain to us why you're going to repeal the Affordable Care Act, throw 20 million people off of health insurance, do away with preexisting conditions. Don't hide. Don't simply run to your wealthy campaign contributors. Talk to your constituents.
And you are seeing that movement, millions of people engaged. We are going to transform this country.