Sanders: "Obviously I Am Not A Communist," But Maybe Trump "Doesn't Know The Difference" | Video | RealClearPolitics

Sanders: "Obviously I Am Not A Communist," But Maybe Trump "Doesn't Know The Difference"

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Sen. Bernie Sanders rejected President Trump labeling him a "communist" this morning during an interview with Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday."

"Obviously I am not a communist," Sanders said, adding that Trump "maybe doesn’t know the difference."

Sanders also said that Trump's claim that he got married in Moscow was a "pathological lie."

"The difference between my socialism and Trump’s socialism is I believe the government should help working families, not billionaires," Sanders said.

Full transcript via FOX News:

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS SUNDAY ANCHOR: And we're back now from Bedford, New Hampshire, just two days before the nation's first primary.

We're joined by the man who shared top honors in Iowa, Senator Bernie Sanders. He's on the campaign trail in Manchester.

Senator, I just asked Major Buttigieg about your charges about him that he's accepting money from billionaires. He says the point is, you've got to build a coalition and accept money from all sources if you're going to beat Donald Trump. So the question is, are you more interested in purity than you are in winning?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), 2020 DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, I am more interested in transforming this country and lowering the outrageous cost of prescription drugs, in making sure that every American has health care as a human right, not a privilege, and making sure that our kids can afford to go to college and not leave school deeply in debt.

And here is the problem. Everybody knows this, whether you're a conservative or a progressive. It is the brilliant ads and the big money that tries (ph) to control what goes on politically, what goes on legislatively in this country. And if you do, as Mayor Buttigieg does, take huge amounts of contributions from the CEOs of the pharmaceutical industry from financers in the fossil fuel industry, from the insurance companies, from Wall Street, does anyone seriously believe that you're going to stand up to those powerful entities and represent working people?

Chris, I am enormously proud of the fact that my campaign today, as of today, has received more campaign contributions from more people averaging all of $18.50 than any candidate in the history of the United States of America. We are a campaign of the working class, by the working class and for the working class. And we are going to take on Wall Street and the insurance companies, and the drug companies and the fossil fuel industry and finally create a government an economy that works for all of us, not just the 1 percent.

WALLACE: But Pete Buttigieg, not to -- not to take his side in this argument, just to -- just to state what his argument is, he says, look, I've put out my platform. I'm going to work for working and middle class people. If billionaires want to support me, support what I stand for, what's wrong with that?

SANDERS: Look, Chris, do you or anybody else in America really believe that if the CEOs of the pharmaceutical industry are making significant contributions to a campaign that they don't know what they are doing?

Look, let me be very honest with you, and mind you the drug companies are not only extraordinarily greedy in charging us, in some cases, 10 times more for the prescription drugs that we get as they do in Canada or in any other country, they are corrupt. They engage in price fixing. They engage in collusion. In terms of the opioid epidemic, they were actually selling a product that they knew was addictive in killing people. They continue to do it.

Do you think when the CEOs of major pharmaceutical companies contribute to your campaign, that you are really going to take them on? I don't think that you will.

We have massive levels of income and wealth inequality in America. Three people have more wealth than the bottom half of America. Do you really think you're going to take on the rich and say, guess what, guys, you're going to finally start paying your fair share of taxes, not as Trump did, give a trillion dollars in tax breaks for the 1 percent and large corporations. I think common sense suggests that when you take money and you're dependent on billionaires, you're not going to stand up to them, you're not going to effectively represent working families.

WALLACE: Senator, you are -- and this picks up right on this conversation -- you are getting hit as a Democratic socialist, which is how you have identified yourself for decades, by everyone from Joe Biden to Donald Trump.

Take a look.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bernie's labeled himself a democratic socialist. I think that's the label that the president is going to lay on everyone running with Bernie if he's the nominee.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think he's a communist. I mean, you know, look, I think it's communism when I think of Bernie. Now, you could say socialist, but didn't he get married in Moscow. Well, that's wonderful. Moscow's wonderful.

WALLACE: In a general election—I know you laugh.

SANDERS: Yes, I just wanted to say Chris -- Chris -- Chris, I just want to say something. And it -- and it's really sad. I gives me no pleasure to say this. We've got a president who's a pathological liar, who lies -- no, I did not get married in Moscow. I participated in creating a sister city program with the city of Yaroslavl when I was mayor of the city. We had Republicans with us. People -- city officials. So that's a lie.

And, obviously, I am not a communist, that I presume the president knows the difference -- maybe he doesn't but I don't know.

WALLACE: OK. OK but -- and here's the question. In a general election, where you're going to need the support, not just of liberal, progressive, left wing Democrats, but you're also going to need the support of independents, even conceivably some moderate Republicans, how do you overcome, not the communist label but the socialist label, which -- which Joe Biden said, not Donald Trump.

SANDERS: OK. Right. Right. That's fair enough, Chris, and I -- I want to make two points on that.

Number one, in many respects -- in many respects, we are a socialist society today. we have a huge budget. It puts money into all areas.

Now, Donald Trump, before he was president, as a private business person, he received $800 million in tax breaks and subsidies to build luxury housing in New York. Now, what does that mean when the government gives you $800 million in tax breaks and subsidies? The fossil fuel industry, whose produce happens to be destroying our planet right now, it's seen tens and tens of billions of dollars in tax breaks and subsidies. So does the pharmaceutical industry.

The difference between my socialism and Trump's socialism is, I believe the government should help working families, not billionaires. So I believe that health care is a human right. I believe we should raise the minimum wage to a living wage of $15 an hour. I believe, in fact, that the rich must start paying their fair share of taxes when you have massive levels of income and wealth inequality.

WALLACE: But -- but -- but, Senator, let me -- let me ask you about some aspects -- specific aspects of your agenda. And you've just laid out some.

Let's put up on the -- on the screen some of the things that you are proposing. According -- this is a report from CNN. If you add up your proposal for Medicare for all and the green new deal and cancelation of all student debt and a guaranteed federal jobs program, all things that you propose, that comes to $60 trillion of new spending over 10 years.

Senator, the Congressional Budget Office, non-partisan, estimates projected over the next 10 years right now the federal government will spend a total of $52 trillion in new spending.

You're more than double that.

SANDERS: All right, Chris, let me deal with the issues. First of all, we pay for everything that we propose. In terms of health care, the question that Trump and Joe Biden, anybody else has got to answer, if we leave the status quo alone, in the next 10 years we're going to be spending $50 trillion.

We are now spending twice as much per person, $11,000 a year, as do the people of any other country on earth. We're spending a fortune for health care and yet we have 87 million Americans uninsured or under insured, 30,000 die each year because they don't get to a doctor. And, unbelievably, 500,000 people go bankrupt because of medically-related illnesses. They get cancer. They go bankrupt. That's insane.

The Medicare --

WALLACE: But -- but, Senator --

SANDERS: They will cost the average -- let me finish. Medicare for all will cost the average American less than the $12,000 a year they are paying right now to the insurance companies. You can call it whatever you want, but when you pay a premium to the insurance companies, I call that a tax. I end those premiums. We end the co-pays—

WALLACE: But -- but, Senator, let me -- let -- let me get in here.


Larry Summers, not a right-wing conservative, he was the Treasury secretary for Bill Clinton.

SANDERS: Right.

WALLACE: He was the top economic adviser -- one of the top economic advisers to Barack Obama.

SANDERS: Yes. I know Larry. Yes.

WALLACE: OK. He -- here's what he had to say about your plan. This is far more radical than all previous presidencies on either the right – or on the left, building up programs. How do you persuade voters in a general election that you're in the political mainstream?

SANDERS: I -- the sound was interrupted, so I didn't hear everything that you said.

But let me just say this, Chris, every other major country on earth guarantees health care to all people as a human right and they also spend substantially less per capita, they all pay far less for prescription drugs.

WALLACE: But he's not just talking about --

SANDERS: I --

WALLACE: But he's not just talking about health care. He's talking about the whole program. He says it's far more radical than either spending or cutting—

SANDERS: Let me -- let me -- sorry, Chris -- Chris, I've got to --

WALLACE: OK.

SANDERS: In terms of climate change. Chris, in terms of climate change, I do propose a lot of money. And you know why, because the scientists are telling us the future of the planet is at stake. We spend $60 billion dealing with Hurricane Sandy. You see what's happening in Puerto Rico. You see what's happening in Australia right now.

What the scientists are telling us is we have an existential crisis. How much do you think it's going to cost when we have more and more extreme weather disturbances?

WALLACE: Right.

SANDERS: What do you think it's going to cost in crude production when we have increased drought. We have got to act to save this planet. And the green new deal, by the way, creates up to 20 million good paying jobs, transforming our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency. But on this issue of climate change, Chris, there are very few options if we want to save this planet for our kids and our grandchildren, give them a planet that's healthy and inhabitable. We need a forceful response. That's not Bernie Sanders. That's what the scientific community is telling us.

And, by the way, it is a disgrace that we have a president who ignores that reality.



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