Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, says Democrats must become a "grassroots party" that speaks to the pains of the working class.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Well, I think what is clear to anyone who looks at where the Democratic Party today is, that the model of the Democratic Party is failing.
We have a Republican president who ran as a candidate as the most unpopular candidate in modern history of this country. Republicans control the House, the Senate, two-thirds of governor's chairs. And in the last eight years, they have picked up 900 legislative seats.
Clearly, the Democratic Party has got to change. And, in my view, what it has got to become is a grassroots party, a party which makes decisions from the bottom on up, a party which is more dependent on small donations than large donations, a party, John, that speaks to the pain of the working class in this country.
The middle class is shrinking, 43 million people living in poverty. Almost all new income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent. People can't afford to send their kids to college. They can't afford child care. They can't afford health care. The Democratic Party has got to take the lead, rally people, young people, working people, stand up to the billionaire class.
And when we do that, you're going to see voter turnout swell. You're going to see people coming in and running for office. You're going to see Democrats regain control of the United States Congress.
DICKERSON: One of the things, a debate, as Democrats try to fix the party is this question of, should there be a prioritization?
You have put those populist economic issues at the forefront. One of the reasons there's a bit of a debate about the Omaha candidate for mayor is that he is against abortion rights. And so there is a debate about cultural issues vs. economic.
How does the party sort all that out?
SANDERS: I don't think there's much of a debate about that.
I have a 100 percent lifetime pro-choice voting record. Overwhelming majority of Democrats are pro-choice. I'm going to do everything that I can to see that the Republicans do not get away with their horrific effort to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides health care to 2.5 million women.
But if we're going to become a 50-state party, if you're going to go to Omaha, Nebraska, which has a Republican governor, two Republican senators, all Republican congresspeople, Republican legislature, you know what? And if in Omaha, 5,000 or 6,000 people come out to a rally led by Jane Kleeb, their new Democratic chairperson, who is doing a great job, and if you have a rally in which you have the labor movement and the environmentalists and Native Americans and the African-American community and the Latino community coming together, saying, we want this guy to become our next mayor, should I reject going there to Omaha?
I don't think so. It was a great rally, and I hope very much he wins. And, by the way, his opponent, his opponent, the incumbent mayor, is also, of course, anti-choice. And she is inviting Scott Walker, one of the most reactionary anti-choice governors, anti-labor governor, anti-education governors, to campaign for her.
The choice is clear. And I hope very much the Democratic candidate there wins.