"Trump has got to be defeated," said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who just won the Democratic primary Tuesday night.
MSNBC, ALI VELSHI: Election night in America once again as primary voters in
Wisconsin, Minnesota, Connecticut and Vermont where polls have closed and
we can now report that Senator Bernie Sanders has won the Democratic
primary for the state of Vermont, which presumably is not breaking news for
my next guest, the independent Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders.
Congratulations on your victory.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I) VERMONT: Thank you very much.
VELSHI: It was a nail biter. I think you got 94 percent of the vote.
SANDERS: Something like that.
VELSHI: So you -- this is one of those instances where you won the
Democratic primary, but you don`t run as a Democrat.
SANDERS: I have a long and kind of unusual relationship with the people of
the state of Vermont. Back in 1981, I defeated a Democrat and a Republican
to become mayor of Burlington, defeated Democrats and Republicans. To make
a long story short, I always run as an independent, and that`s what I will
do. And I think people of Vermont understand that.
We have a very good relationship with the Democratic Party. I suspect that
this coming campaign will be putting more money into the Democratic Party
than anybody else. We`re supporting a whole lot of good Democratic
candidates, but I will run as an independent.
VELSHI: So you will decline the Democratic nomination?
VELSHI: And I understand that you have got a good relationship with the
voters of Vermont. But now you have got a profile nationally where a lot
of Democrats are saying, hey, this is not a good time for Bernie Sanders to
be separate and apart from the Democratic Party.
SANDERS: I am not separate and apart. I`m part of the Democratic
The truth of the matter is, and I think Democrats and Republicans have got
to understand this, there are more people now who are independents than
Democrats and Republicans. I don`t want to break the bad news to anybody.
Two party system is not held in wide esteem in this country.
And I think as an independnet what I can do, and am doing, is bringing a
whole lot of working people and young people who are not crazy about the
Democratic Party into the Democratic Party, because clearly that is the far
better alternative than the Republican Party.
And what we`re also trying to do is reform the Democratic Party, make it a
party of working people, making it a party of young people. And I`m very
proud of the successes that we`ve had in recent years in pushing a
progressive agenda -- health care for all, raising the minimum wage to 15
bucks an hour, making public colleges and universities tuition free,
demanding the wealthy start paying
their fair share of taxes.
Those ideas, Ali, which two years ago seem to be radical ideas are now kind
of mainstream ideas supported by a pretty strong majority of the American
VELSHI: So take a look at this tweet today from Nate Silver at
FiveThirtyEight. In races where insurgent progressive Democrats are
running against party-backed nominees -- and we`re going to get in trouble
for all the words we used here, but the establishment Democrat is winning
89 percent of the time.
We can get into a debate about what that means, but...
SANDERS: It doesn`t mean anything is what we can talk about.
Next question is how much money did the establishment Democrats have
compared to the insurgents?
Look, we are winning, I believe, the ideological struggle, do you agree?
OK. In other words, ideas that were seen as radical are now seeming
mainstream. Are we going to win every election? Of course not. A lot of
really great candidates who have lost, but the truth of the matter is, if
you look at races from the school board, state legislature, city council,
members of congress, we are winning some really good races.
VELSHI: In this instance, in this time that we are now with Donald Trump
as president, with remarkable destruction, not creative destruction, just
destruction, is the winning of the longer term battle of mainstreaming some
of your ideas in the Democratic Party better or more important than the
SANDERS: Donald Trump has got to be defeated and I intend to do everything
that I can, with every other progressive in America, in making sure that
You will recall, though, that four years ago in the midterm elections, we
had the lowest voter turnout in the modern history of the United States of
America. Two-thirds of the American people didn`t vote.
VELSHI: It`s in the low 30s.
So, our job right now -- and I think we are succeeding -- is get people
excited about the political process, getting people to run for office,
getting people to vote. If we can have a large voter turnout, and if we
have candidates who stand for working families, I think the Democrats are
going to do just fine.
VELSHI: The complaints of many working Americans, or formerly working
Americans, who supported you was not dissimilar to a lot of those who
support Donald Trump. The distrust of the political system, of Wall
Street, of the banks, of trade agreements that have left them out while
corporations make record product -- profits and countries has record GDP
growth are many of the same
How do Democrats get those voters back?
SANDERS: You talk to the issue that impact ordinary Americans and we
demand that the media, by the way, talk to those issues as well. I know
you are familiar with this issue. You`re Canadian, yeah? Why is it that
the United States of America is the only major country on Earth not
to guarantee health care to all people, and yet we`re spending twice as
much per capita and our health care outcomes are worse. Let`s talk about
VELSHI: So you push the idea of Medicare for all, which is a similar
system to what I grew up
under. Is that the winning strategy for Democrats.
SANDERS: I think it is part of it. It`s not just one thing. Raising the
minimum wage to a living wage, dealing with income and wealth inequality.
How do you think the American people feel, whether they are working people,
middle class, upper middle class, you`ve got three people in this country
owning more wealth than the bottom 50 percent. You`ve got one guy, Jeff
Bezos, whose wealth increases every single day by $250 million, but doesn`t
pay his workers, many of his workers, enough money to keep them off food
stamps and Medicaid. Do you think that`s an issue that would resonate?
VELSHI: Practically speaking, why does Donald Trump still have that base
of support in many cases of people who do not benefit from his policies?
SANDERS: Well, I think we have got to do a heck of a lot better in getting
through to some of those people. Look, I am not going to deny for a second
that some of those supporters are racist, sexist, homophobes, xenophobes,
that`s true. I don`t believe that is the majority.
I`ve been all over Trump country. And I think what Trump was able to do
was pick up on the failures of the Democratic Party that did not talk about
the fact that hard working decent people saw their jobs going to Mexico or
China, or people cannot afford to send their kids to college or afford
child care or afford housing that they desperately need.
So I think the future of the Democratic Party has got to be the focus on
the needs of working families to demand that we have a government that
represents all of us.
You talk to Republicans and ask them how they feel about Citizen United.
Do they think it`s a good idea that billionaires, like the Koch Brothers,
can literally buy elections, spending hundreds of millions of dollars?
VELSHI: So at this point, the Democrats have got to get out there with a
message. And we`re 84 days from the midterms. YOu`ve been crossing the
country campaigning for people. At some point it`ll start to emerge as to
what should the party represent in the next election. Who will the leaders
be? There are a number of Democratic Socialist candidates who have run.
There are a lot of progressive who have run. There are a lot of
progressive Democrats who are running. And there are, again back to this
Nate Silver tweet, whether...
SANDERS: That is -- that is a troublesome tweet, because I can`t predict -
- I could back 100 percent of the victors.
VELSHI: Let`s just put that up for a second. I just want to see it. The
fact is, is the number troublesome to you? Because 89 percent of what he
is calling establishment Democrats are winning these primaries.
SANDERS: And probably half of them ran without any opposition. I mean, it
doesn`t mean anything unto itself, because the truth is that all over this
country we are seeing working people and young people, often for the very
first time, getting involve in politics.
VELSHI: So, it`s some of these rural more conservative constituencies, you
think it is good to get in there with a consistent message of a progressive
message, not to out flank a conservative candidate? Because the ones who
have been winning in some of these special elections are people who...
SANDERS: Really? That was Alexandria`s situation here in New York. I
don`t know that was...
VELSHI: And you have drawn the clearest example of the exception to that
SANDERS: Well, Rashida`s victory or John Federman`s (ph) victory in
VELSHI: But you get the point, right, there are some.
SANDERS: Look, you know, people are going run their own campaigns based on
district. All that I can say is that I think it is not only good policy,
it is good politics to talk about
issues relevance to working people.
In all of the polling, you ask people do they want Medicare for All? Yeah.
Do they think that the rich and large corporations should should the paying
their fair share of taxes. Yeah, they do.
Should we make public college and universities tuition free? Hey, that`s a
Should we deal with climate change and transform our energy system? Yeah,
let`s do it because we`re seeing what climate change is doing right now all
over the world.
VELSHI: And yet we have move in the opposite direction on all four of
SANDERS: We sure have.
VELSHI: We`ve gone the wrong way. Congratulations on your victory. Look
forward to talking to you more.