"Let me just ask, since this is a tax debate, what is the difference between a socialist and a Democrat on taxes?" Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) asked Sen. Sanders (I-VT) in a nationally televised debate Wednesday night on CNN.
"I don't know the answer to that," the Independent Senator from Vermont answered.
CRUZ: Now, one of the things I like about debating Bernie is he's honest. When he ran in Vermont, he ran as a socialist, an unabashed socialist.
SANDERS: No, I didn't. No, I ran as an independent. Longest serving independent in the history of the United States Congress.
CRUZ: Are you a socialist or not?
SANDERS: I am a democratic socialist...
CRUZ: OK. Good.
SANDERS: But don't tell them -- I didn't run as a socialist. I ran as an independent.
CRUZ: You told people you were a socialist. Fine, fine.
SANDERS: You didn't run as a right-winger. You ran as a Republican, right?
CRUZ: I am happily a conservative.
SANDERS: Conservative, all right.
CRUZ: I am happily conservative.
So Bernie ran telling the voters he was a socialist, and then in this last election he ran in the Democratic Party. He almost won the Democratic Party's nomination. And if you didn't have superdelegates and the corruption of the DNC, you probably would have been your party's nominee.
SANDERS: Are you looking for a job as my campaign manager?
CRUZ: You know...
But I'll say it was interesting. Right before the campaign -- right before the commercial break, when I said Bernie and the Democrats want to cut defense, cut the Army and the Navy and the Air Force and Marines, Bernie reacted and said, no, no, no, the Democrats don't, that's just me, Bernie.
So it's interesting. Listen, I think today -- I think the lesson the Democratic Party took from this election was Hillary Clinton was too moderate, and I think the Democratic Party is the party of you and Elizabeth Warren. But let me just ask, since this is a tax debate, what is the difference between a socialist and a Democrat on taxes?
SANDERS: Well, I don't know the answer to that, because I don't know what every Democrat...
CRUZ: I don't, either.
SANDERS: But here's what I think. As a democratic socialist, Ted, similar to the people in Denmark and Sweden and Norway and Finland, people who have, by and large, a much higher standard of living than we have, people who guarantee health care to all of their people as a right, where kids have free -- free -- preschool education, where retirement benefits are much more generous than the United States, this is what I do believe, Ted.
I believe that in a civilized society, people, especially those on top, should be asked to pay their fair share so that every man, woman and child in our country can have a decent standard of living.
SANDERS: Let me finish. We are the healthiest nation in the history of the world, and Ted has got to explain why we have 28 million people without any health insurance, many more underinsured, and if he gets his way, another 15 million losing their health care.