Skip to content
Politics
Link copied to clipboard

What Bernie Sanders said: Q&A

Below is a transcript of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' interview Wednesday with The Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News editorial boards. Questions were edited for space.

Below is a transcript of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' interview Wednesday with The Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News editorial boards. Questions were edited for space.  Above each question is an audio player containing both the question and response.

Sanders: This campaign is a very different type of campaign than we have seen for a very, very long time. I honestly believe that we have the possibility of pulling off one of the great political upsets in the history of the United States of America. We have now won seven of the last eight caucuses and primaries, and with one exception, but landslide proportions. We won last night in Wisconsin in a very good victory.

We have opened the door for politics to millions of people who had given up on the political process, especially young people. And if you look at the polls, what is extraordinary is that in election after election, we win by overwhelming numbers people who are 45 years of age or younger. Secretary Clinton does very well among older people. So I think the ideas that we are generating are the future of America; certainly the future of the Democratic party.

We have enormous energy, enormous enthusiasm. I know we're going to have a rally here tonight. The last I heard, the RSVP numbers were something like 17,000. That doesn't mean that many people will come. You never know. But there will be a lot of people out there tonight. In Pittsburgh last week, we had, I don't know, 8,000, 10,000 people out. We've had turnouts like that all over the country.

I think the bottom line is that American people are really tired of establishment politics and establishment economics. They're seeing the middle class continue to decline despite the fact that we're much better off today than we were when Bush left office. Parents are very worried about the future of their kids, who may have a lower standard of living than they did for the first time in the history of this country. We have a corrupt campaign finance system that allows billionaires to buy elections. We have a broken criminal justice system that has more people in jail than any other place on earth.

So those are some of the issues. And obviously climate change. It's beyond comprehension that we have a major political party that denies the reality of what the scientists tell us is the great global environmewntal crisis we face.

So those are some of the issues we've campaigned on. I think we are resonating. We started this campaign at about 3 percent, 70 points behind Hillary Clinton. Today, there was a McClatchy poll that had us two points ahead of her. So we have come a very very long way. I'm proud of the campaign we have run. And I think we have a shot to win this. So thank you for the opportunity to say a few words.

Question: I think in light of what you've just expressed, there is a lot of frustration and anger in America. I think you represent very well the people who are disatisfied with the state of the country right now. But what seems to be short from you are specific solutions. I want you to address the trade issue. I know you've expressed some disatisfaction with our trade policies and agreements, but I personally am not real clear on what you are offering. Are you saying we should ignore those trade agreements? And also some acknowledgement that these agreements that have cost American jobs also have created jobs for people whose goods are being sold in other countries.

Answer: That last point is obviously correct. Every trade agreement has postives and negatives, and trade agreements do create jobs. We have exports going out around the world. Agriculture is doing fairly well in certain respects. But I think if you look at the totality of the pluses and minuses of agreements like NAFTA, CAFTA, permanent trade agreements with China, South Korea, and what just the other day, got a whole lot of attention, the Panamanian free trade agreement, which has given corporations and very wealthy people the opportunity to dodge taxes in countries throughout the world.

So I think you're right that every trade agreement has some positive aspects to it, but I think, and I know that people disagree on the numbers; but the economists that I respect tell me we have lost millions of decent-paying jobs because of free trade with China and NAFTA and the other free trade agreements.

So to answer your question, I believe in trade. But I believe in fair trade; not unfettered free trade. Now can I give you a detailed plan? No I can't, but basically this is the outline of what I believe. I am opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership as one example, because the minimum wage in Vietnam is 65 cents an hour. I'm opposed to the TPP because in Malaysia, you have people working there who are literally indentured servants who are living and working in semi-slavish environments. So when you develop a trade agreement, what it means is I do not believe American workers should have to compete against people who are making 65 cents an hour. That has got to be part of; when you look at the whole thing; it's wages, it's environmental protection. People in China are dying in large numbers because their country is incredibly polluted. They don't have anywhere near the environmental standards they should. Is it fair that we have environmental standards for companies in this country, then they go to China where they don't have environmental standards. So you have to add all of those factors in before you come up with a trade agreement that's free.

Q: We won't have a TPP, but the other trade agreements - what are you going to do with them?

A: They should be renegotiated.

Q: Would you stop honoring those agreements while they're being negotiated?

A: No. If we have an agreement, legally we have an agreement. But they should be renegotiated.

Q: Many of your ideas resonate with a lot of people. . . .I want to talk about two in particular: The the financial transaction tax, as well as the Glass-Steagall Act that you are talking about reenacting. What happens to those two ideas when they get to Congress? Do you have a strategy to keep them from dying?

A: As you know, there is a piece of legislation, interestingly enough, I think it's called the 21st Century Glass-Steagall, introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a very close colleague of mine, and John McCain actually, who I like very much, but whose views are quite different than mine. But to answer your question, I would ask you, when I'm talking about what's going on in this country, when I talk about a political revolution, don't look at these issues just within the context of politics, what it is today. So your question is, if I introduce that legislation with the Republicans controlling the House, how is it going to get through?

Let me look at that issue from a broader sense. And let me give you one example. When I talk about a political revolution, what it means is involving millions of peole in the polital process in a way that we have not seen in many years. Right now in my view, and I work in the Senate, you have a Congress that every day is doing the bidding of the wealthiest people in this country and the largest corporations. So if the question is how are you going to get something like this through a Republican House, assuming the Democrats take back the Senate, you're going to do it by mobilizing the American people to demand that that be done.

Let me give you one example. I introduced legislation in the Senate to raise the minimum wage to $15. Previous to that, you had many Democrats and Republicans - well, the Republicans didn't want anything at all, but the Democrats said, "Maybe we can get $10 an hour. Wow, wouldn't that be something?" The minimum wage now is $7.25 an hour. Well you all know what's going on now. In Oregon. In California. In New York State. Governors have signed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Congress had nothing to do with it. It eminated from the American people; from workers themselves who went on strike who were in the fast food industry. That is how change takes place.

So to answer your question, the way I look at my work at president is not just to be negotiating with Republicans, which I can do, have done. In fact, I've worked with Republicans my whole life where there is common interest. But it is to mobilize the American people to demand that Congress do what has to be done. And that includes financial reform. It includes making public colleges and universities tuition-free. It includes demanding that the wealthiest people and biggest corporations in this country start paying their fair share of taxes.

Now, I think you may think this is idealistic, not realistic. It is realistic, because once people get mobilized, politicians look aaround and say, "We've got to do the right thing or I may not have my job in two years."

Q: I understand what you're saying about us being in a different political environment, but some of your proposals don't even have any Democratic support in the Senate, I don't think. Doesn't that indicate there may be some trouble-

A: But you know what it does have? A significant number of the American people supporting them. And if you follow me around to my rallies; talk to the young people and their parents about whether they think public colleges and universities should be tuition-free. Look, for better or for worse, some of you may agree with me; maybe most of you don't. The subtext of this campaign is called a political revolution. The reason I'm running is not because I have any animosity for Hillary Clinton, who is obviously a very intelligent and accomplished person. The reason I'm running for president is that it is too late for establishment politics.

I gave you the example of the $15 minimum wage. If we were here five years ago, nobody in this room would have [untintelligible] bills signed by governors. Nobody would have dreamed it. I would not have. And it happened because people stood up for it. Mark my words. Sooner than later, public colleges and universities in America will be tuition-free. I have not the slightest doubt about that. And the reason is that the young people of this country and their parents are outraged by the fact that because they do the right thing and get a college education, are leaving schools, $30,000, $50,000, $70,000 in debt, a debt that significantly impacts their futures. Young people have to delay getting married, having kids, getting a car even. Everybody in this room understands, I believe, that education in this country is not the same as it was 50 years ago. If you want to get a good job, in many ways, a college degree is the equivalent of a high school degree 50 years ago. I don't think there is a lot of debate about that. If we are going to be a competitive part of the global economy, we need to have the best educated work force. We need to rethink public education. Do you really think that public education - first grade through 12th grade - is enough in the global economy? I don't think so. This is an idea that definitely will happen. I hope to make it happen sooner rather than later. And we pay for it with a tax on Wall Street speculation.

Q: As long as we're on the subject of your education proposal, a lot of people have pointed out that free education does not necessarily correlate with educational attainment. In other words, a lot of countries that have a higher percentage of college-educated people don't have free tuition. Some of them that do have free education have less college-educated people than we have.

A: All I can say is my goal is twofold. I think number one, I think we have to rethink what we mean by public education. It now must include public colleges and universities tuition-free. Number two; there is no question in my mind that with the radical changing of the economy, the American people need more education. And point number three, as someone who grew up in a family whose parents did not go to college, I want to see, and this is revolutionary, you know and I know that there are already kids in the 4th grade, 6th grade, 8th grade, who probably already realize, their parents never went to college; they're never going to go to college. They're as likely to go to college as going to the moon. But if we can get the word out that if you study hard and do good in school, no matter what, you're going to get a college education. So to me, this is not a complicated issue. It will happen. The question is whether it happens sooner or later and I would like to see it happen sooner.

Q: After college, we would hope people would get could jobs. Yet for decades we've seen increases in productivity unhinged from wages. We've seen profits go places other than wages for the lowest and middle workers. What is your plan for doing that? Are you going to force corporations to redistribute the wealth.

A: First of all, let's be clear. That's been happening for the last 30 years. What's happened in the last 30 years is that there has been a massive movement of wealth from the middle class to the top one-tenth of a percent, which has seen a doubling of the percentage of wealth that it now owns. Today in this economy right now, and it's important to point this out, the American people work the longest hours of anybody in the industrialized world. All of you know that 40 years ago, it was possible in America for one worker, often men in those days, to work 40 hours a week and take care of their family. That's gone. You've got woman working, children working and at the end of the day, you've got 58 percent of the wealth going to the top one-tendth of one percent. Those are the facts. Whether you like them or not, but that is the reality of it. And I intend to change that reality.

So what do you do? I applaud what is going on in New York and California, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. That is exactly what has to be done. People working 40 hours a week should not be living in poverty.

Number two. Pay equity for women. It is absurd that women make 79 cents an hour compared to men, and that minority women make even less.

Thirdly, this is America and yet our infrastructure is collapsing in front of our eyes. I was in Flint, Michigan, and what we saw and heard is something I will never forget as long as I live. Talking to parents whose children were poisoned and whose brain development suffered accordingly. This is America in 2016. Newark, New Jersey, water-system problems. Hundreds of communities; roads, bridges. Wastewater plants. Yeah - I think we should rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.

And I think with all of this Panamanian stuff, we should have introduced legislation years ago to do away with the tax havens that now exist in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, other countries; where you have major corporations making billions of dollars of profit in a given year without paying taxes. I think that's absurd. So we have legislation to have that. We'll have $100 billion a year coming into the treasury and use that money to build our infrastructure. A trillion-dollar investment creates 13 million jobs, good-paying jobs rebuilding our infrastructure.

Number three. We talked about trade policy. Corporate America has got to start investing in this country; not just in China.

Number four; public universities and colleges tuition-free. That will be a major step forward.

Those are some of the ideas we have to help the American middle class and to address income inequality.

Q: You've outlined pretty detailed plans for low-wage workers. What about the middle-class worker? How does that happen?

A: It happens in that we stop giving tax breaks to multinational corporations, most of whom have downsized in the United States and moved abroad. And we pay attention to small and medium-sized businesses that are growing jobs in the United States of America. So the emphasis would be - and by the way, significantly in the African-American and Latino communities - where the people there, and I believe correctly so, believe they have not gotten a fair share of federal grants or contracts.

And if we want to talk about one of the great tradgedies that nobody talks about in this country, which is unbelievably high rates of youth unemployment, which correlates to the fact that we have more young people in jail than in any other country, I want to invest in minority communities; making sure that African-American and Latino small and medium sized businesses get the support they need to hire young people.

Q: Senator; do you see similarities between your campaign and the one eight years ago that Barack Obama ran. I don't think I'm the first to see some siliarities. But does the experience of the past eight years give you pause. Or can you pinpoint things that you would have done differently?

A: I think the parallel, and I don't claim to be as good of a politician as Barack Obama. He ran a campaign in 2008 that I think was one of the great campaigns in the history of this country. I think the parallels, like his, is that are campaign is generating a tremendous amount of excitement. And you know, when we began this campaign, we said we want to get large voter turnouts. We want to get people excited. Honestly, I never thought there would be states this year where the turnout would be higher than 2008, and that's not always been the case, by any means. But it has been the case in a number of states. But we are generating excitement like Obama did. Now I think if your question is that Obama got elected, then he ran into a wall? Is that your question? Here is what I think.

I consider Barack Obama a friend. He campaigned for me. I was a Senator and campaigned for him to get elected and reelected. Here is what I think. He was trusting enough, I believe, you know when he ran for office, he said we've got to end this kind of bitterness and politics. And I think he really believed that he could sit down with Republicans and work out compromises. But I think as most of you know, literally on the day that he was innaugurated, a group of Republicans sat down together and they concluded that the best approach was to obstruct Obama in every way possible. And I was in the Senate, so I saw it every day. Things that were perfunctory. The appointment of some ambassador someplace where nobody ever thought twice about. That was held up and we needed 60 votes to get it done. It was held up, delayed and obstructed.

Now where I would do things differently, as I said before, is that I would make it clear from day one that my job is certainly to work with the opposition, but it is also to rally the American people to put pressure on Congress to do what the American people want, and not what big money interests and campaign contributors want. And that is the difference I'd have with Obama. I think there is a feeling in the country, a large segment of the Democrats, certainly the progressive community, is that Obama got elected and said, hey, thank you so much for your help. I'll take it from here. And I think that was a tactical mistake. I think he should have mobilized the American people in a way that he did not do.

Q: While mobilizing the American people, you still have to motivate them to elect the kind of people who would pass the types of laws you want. Do you think you'd have the type of coattails in this election that would produce that type of Congress?

A: I guarantee. Write it down. Bernie Sanders is elected - take any bet they give you. That the Democrats will win the United States Senate. That's not a question. And Democrats will pick up many, many seats in the House. And Democratic governors will be elected all over the country. Why am I so sure of that? Because I realize that if I am the nominee and if I win, that would mean that there will be an emormous amount of excitement and there will be a very large voter turnout. And if there is a large voter turnout, Democrats will do well all across the board.

Q: Clearly, you have a very strong message domestically. On foreign issues, often you have said you don't know and there would be time to figure it out. But there are still things that I find very unclear on what you would do when it comes to areas where there are security challenges to the United States. Would you clarify first of all how you would deal with the ISIS problem. At one point you said Saudi and Qatari troops should do it. Do you still feel that way?

A: Qatar, I don't think has many troops. I don't think I said Qatar troops.

Q: Saudi troops that can't fight their way out of a paper bag.

A: Okay, good, I've got the question. Let's talk about foreign policy, which is obviously an enormous issue. You're right. I have focused on domestic issues. But I don't think I have run away from foreign policy.

What has been the most important vote, the most important vote in modern American history in terms of foreign policy? I think it was clearly whether we should go to war in Iraq. Now it's not just that I opposed the war. I helped lead the opposition to the war. And I would urge everybody to go to my web site and listen to the speech I gave on the floor of the House of Representatives in 2002. And sadly, I get no pleasure in telling you this, a lot of what I feared would happen did happen in terms of the destabilization of the region, the loss of lives, the huge expenditures of money, etc., etc. I opposed that war. Hillary Clinton, who has all kinds of experience - I know she knows the name of every ambassador in the world - she voted for that war.

Second of all, in terms of ISIS, this is what I think. When I talked about Saudi Arabia and Quatar and the UAE and Kuwait, they have very small armies. Saudi Arabia does not, by the way. They have the fourth largest military budget in the world. But when you look at a country like Qatar in that region, Qatar is going to spend $200 billion in preparation for the world soccer cup in 2022. $200 billion! Anybody here know how much money Qatar is putting in for the war against ISIS? Not a whole lot. And that's what I meant by that. You have countries in the region that are literally threatened and they are putting in peanuts. And they should contribute.

What I also talked about was in fact Saudi Arabia having the fourth largest defense budget in the world, and playing a more active role. I believe very much that what King Abdullah of Jordan said months ago, this is what he said; he said that at the end of the day, the war that is going on there against ISIS is a war for the soul of Islam. And that that war must be fought by Muslim troops on the ground with the support of air attacks, training, weaponry, etc. from the major powers. So I think what I would do, and I think in fairness, President Obama gets beaten up a lot. Republicans say he isn't tough enough. Actually, his approach is working. We all wish it would work faster. ISIS has lost 40 percent of the territory it controlled last year in Iraq. They are on the defensive. So my goal is to put together a strong coalition. That coalition should include funding from these very wealthy countries. I will do everything I can to ensure that our military does not get sucked into perpetual warfare in the Middle East. I believe that is absolutely imperative. We could be there forever. And we've got to work very hard. There are huge geopolitical differences in that region. But at the end of the day, if I understand correctly, ISIS has 30,000 or 40,000 fighters. There are millions of armed people in that region. And if we can put together that coalition, we can destroy ISIS [Unintelligible].

Q: A follow-up: putting together that coalition, what actually does that mean? What do you do if Saudi Arabia [unintelligible] we subcontracted to them [unintelligible]. So what is our role to make sure that it does right?

A: You're opening up a big can of worms. You've asked a very deep question. And that, for example, has a lot to do with our relationships with these multi-billionaire families who run the Sunni countries. And as you know, I think it's no great secret that all of the 9/11 attackers came from Saudi Arabia, but that money has leaked from Saudi Arabia into Wahabi type organizations all over the world. Our friends in Kuwait; the royal family that we put back in power with our armed forces, is also leaking money to terrorist organizations.

To answer your question, what you do is tell Saudi Arabia and Kuwait; none of this stuff is easy. The president is trying and I'm not being overly critical. I don't have a magical answer. But that we have leverage with them and that we use that leverage to make sure that we are on the same page. And that the first order of business is the destruction of ISIS.

And that brings us to Syria, if I may, which is obviously part of this discussion. When Secretary Clinton talked about the necessity of getting rid of Assad. I don't want to misstate her here, but I think she put it at the same level as fighting ISIS. I don't agree. Assad is a brutal, murdering dictator of the worst kind. But he first order of business has to be dealing with ISIS. Then we figure out a way to work with Iran and Russia to see that we get to Mr. Assad to mansion someplace wherever he wants to go. But get him out of Syria and try to pave the way for some democracy there.

I also disagree with Secretary Clinton on this idea of a no-fly zone, which I think would entangle us even more. And I must say, I think John Kerry has done a very good job. What Kerry is trying to do is much of what I'm telling you and with success.

Q: Your position sounds a lot like Donald Trump.

A: On what?

Q: On Syria. Staying out. Letting the Arab countries do it.

A: I don't know about Trump's position on this, but my own view is that we've got to learn from the war in Iraq, which was a horrific disaster.

It's something, you know, I come from a small state. And I went to very many funerals in my state for people who died in Iraq. And the lesson to be learned is that the United States cannot and should not do it alone. I'm not impressed by all these Republican guys who are so tough about sending in the troops and all that stuff. It's not their kids that are going to be fighting, I assure you. And I think that in many way, that's exactly what ISIS wants. They want to be able to tell the Muslim World that they have taken on the Untied States. I agree with King Abdullah. The fundamental fighting has bot to be done by the Muslim nations themselves. But I do believe, this is not easy stuff, President Obama is trying to do this, arming and training the Iraqis. They've had ups and downs there for years. Maybe, knock on wood, they are improving and we have seen some good results in the past year. Hopefully that is the case. But no. I don't want to see American troops sucked into that war. Because I think once you're into it, you get into it deeper and deeper, and we'll be talking about this for decades.

Q: Are you afraid that the U.S. will get sucked into a conflict in Asia over islands off China? Is it worth getting into a war over [Unintelligible]?

A: War should be the last resort. I think we've got to encourage diplomacy. I mean the idea of getting into war with China. My God. What would happen? So I don't think the Chinese leadership are crazy and I think we need to avoid that.

Q: You've talked a little about domestic programs and funding for them. Would you talk a little about the national debt?

A: What are we up to? $18 trillion? $19 trillion? You know, I'm the ranking member of the budget committee. And I often rankle my Republican friends by saying, as the leading budget hawk on this committee, let me say a few words. Because I am. How did we get - not entirely - but what are the significant ways in which we got to where we are today? I think the war in Iraq has cost us - nobody knows how much - but between $3 trillion and $6 trillion. The Bush tax breaks to the wealthy and big corporations costs us huge sums of money. The Medicare-Part D prescription program was unpaid for. All of those things I voted against, by the way. So I have pretty good credentials as a deficit hawk. But I think when you have a massive level of income inequality, and when you have, in the last 30 years, a shift of trillions of dollars from the middle class to the top one-tenth of 1 percent. And when you have corporations out there making billions of dollars and not paying taxes year after year, I think one way you deal with deficit is to have a major tax reform program which does ask the wealthy and major corporations to start paying their fair share.

Second of all, and this I'm kind of conservative on, all government agencies have a major amount of bureaucracy, and fraud and waste, including the Department of Defense, which is the only major government agency which cannot sustain an independent audit. It is too complicated. So if you go into the Secretary of the Department of Defense today, he cannot give you details on where money goes because they don't have the capability. But there is an enormous amount of waste there with overruns, defense contractors, cheating the federal government all of the time. So those are some of the errors. It is a serious issue and one that has to be addressed.

Q: How would you define "fair share" for corporations and the wealthy?

A: Well we have legislation that would end the loophole that gives corporations the ability to stash their money in the Cayman Islands. That would bring in about $100 billion a year. We also raise the personal income tax level to - I don't have my papers here, but I believe about 52 percent. And we use a lot of that money to move this country towards a Medicare-for-all health care system, which would save the average company many thousands of dollars a year in healthcare costs. So yes, we are going to raise taxes on large, profitable corporations, and yes, we are going to raise the individual tax rate.

Q: At what income level would the 52-percent rate start?

A: I don't have that now. We can get you that. I beg your pardon. I don't have the paper in front of me. But I think it may be at $250,000.

Q: And would you raise the corporate tax rate ?

A: I think right now our focus is on ending loopholes, such as the one that I told you about.

Q: You mentioned seven of the last eight primaries. New York and Pennsylvania. . . What is your strategy to make headway in those states over the next couple weeks?

A: Well, our strategy has been pretty consistent. Our focus will be on grassroots organizing. We will have a very large - I don't know how large - but a strong staff here in Pennsylvania and in New York obviously. We will have many thousands of volunteers. We have been very lucky in attracting great volunteers; knocking on doors and making calls. Obviously we will use paid media. The other thing is we do a lot of rallies. We did a rally in Pittsburgh last week. We'll do one here tonight. And we'll do it all over the state. We will be working as hard as we can to get our message out to the people of Pennsylvania. But to answer your question, I would say it's mostly a grass-roots effort.

And we're learning a little bit as this goes on, making sure that our supporters get out and vote. And if we do that - I don't know if anyone saw, but we had a good poll here in Pennsylvania. Quinnipiac. I think we were four or six points down, which is a lot smaller margin than we've seen in the past. So I think that we are making some progress here.

Q: Pennsylvania and New York are states with large minority populations, which you have not done well with before. You did well in Wisconsin last night, but it's 88-percent white. Why do you feel that you're not doing as well with minorities?

A: First of all, we are doing much better now. In a national poll, I think McClatchy, we are winning with Latino voters. And I think we have won the Latino votes in Colorado, in Nevada, and maybe someplace else as well.

Second of all, and I would not have predicted this, you can look and say, "How are you doing with African Americans? How are you doing with Latinos? How are you doing with whites?" But what is equally interesting is how we are doing age-wise. I think we are close now in getting a majority of young African Americans. We are getting killed with older African Americans, especially men.

Q: You're doing well certainly with all races under age 45.

A: Right. Including, I have seen numbers where if we're not winning, we're doing pretty good.

Q: The question is why you think you are not doing as well as you should be.

A: It's not what I should be doing. You start out in the South. You know - Bill Clinton was the governor of Arkansas for many many years. Secretary Clinton was First Lady. They have a lot of roots in the South. It is no great secret that Bill Clinton was very popular with the African American community. Some have called him the first black president. He has a lot of support in the African American community and that has spilled over to Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton ran for president in 2008, developed a lot of support from community leaders. So she started with that very strong advantage. But I think once we're outside the South, our numbers are going up.

Q: Are you suggesting that it's an emotional tie rather than where you stand on the issues?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you think African-Americans don't consider the issues?

A: Of course they consider the issues, but they have known Bill Clinton for 25 years and they have a bond with Bill Clinton. But if you look at the issues, issue by issue, I think I would defend my record any day of the week against Hillary Clinton's in terms of what it means to the African American community. In terms of criminal justice. In terms of economics. But when you have a community that's been supportive of Bill Clinton for 25 years, supportive of Hillary Clinton in 2008, that's tough. And I think we are making progress in that community.

Q: You'll be bringing a lot of delegates to the convention here in Philadelphia, down on Broad Street. I'm curious as to whether you have enough delegates to win or you don't, are you going to stage a platform fight? How would that work? Are there one or two ideas for which you'd really go to the mat?

A: First of all, I'm a little touchy, but let me reiterate this. We started at three percent in the polls; you know, 60 or 70 points down. As as if today, we're two points up. We have come a very long way, and sometimes people say, well - there was a very silly article in the New York Times today about all of the things that we should have done. I think we're running a very good campaign, to tell you the truth in all humility.

To answer question, yes, I think we will engage in a platform fight. I don't think it's gotten going yet. But we certainly have reached out to the appropriate people. The issues that we are concerned about campaign finance reform and overturning Citizens United, and moving to public funding of elections. Certainly the $15-an-hour minimum wage. Secretary Clinton, I was impressed by her chutzpah in standing next to the governor of New York when she had supported a $12 an hour minimum wage.

And criminal justice is to me a very big issue. It is beyond comprehension that we have more people in jail than any other country, disproportionally African American, Latino, Native American.

So I think those are the types of issues we will fight for, not to mention - I've been impressed as I go around the country, that while people believe as I do, that the Affordable Care Act has done a lot of good things. I was on the committee that helped to write the Affordable Care Act and got a good provision in there. But people want more. And now I think you have a majority of Democrats that would support a Medicare-for-all single payer system.

Q: Let's face it. You may not be president, but [if] you've pushed the party so far to the left that the party loses to a very conservative Republican?

A: If you look at virtually every single poll, Bernie Sanders beats Donald Trump by larger numbers than does Hillary Clinton.

Q: [Unintelligible].

A: Those ads are doing to Hillary Clinton what I have not done. I have not talked about the Clinton Foundation. I suspect that it's quite possible the Republicans may. I have not talked about the FBI and emails, but it is quite possible the Republicans may. In fact, it's about 100-percent possible.

So if the question is, for a start, which was not your question, I believe from the bottom of my heart, that I am a stronger candidate than Secretary Clinton running against any Republican. Okay. That's number one.

Number two, every issue that I have talked about here, with the possible exception of Medicare-for-all, is supported by the vast majority of the American people. These are not radical ideas. These are ideas that the American people support.

Q: You'll surely be painted as a radical if you are the nominee.

A: And Hillary Clinton will be painted whatever they decide to paint her.

Q: Have you thought through what the impact would be if -

A: Look, if the question is will I do everything I can to make sure that a Donald Trump or some right wing extremist does not become president, yeah, of course I will. But I am also telling you from the bottom of my heart and what the objective evidence says, I believe that I am the strongest candidate. So if you are suggesting that the Koch brothers will drop a few hundred million dollars attacking me, yeah, absolutely. So they will against Hillary Clinton. And if you look at every indication out there, in terms of favorability, in terms of trust, I do a lot better than Secretary Clinton. Look at right here in Pennsylvania. So yeah. I will do whatever I can to make sure that some right-wing person is not president of the United States, Trump or anybody else. That would be a disaster for this country.

All right, with that, I apologize.

Published