Bernie Sanders speaks during the second Democratic presidential primary debate in the Sheslow Auditorium of Drake University in Des Moines, IO on Nov. 14, 2015.
Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images
By Maya Rhodan
Updated: November 15, 2015 12:09 AM ET

Correction appended, Nov. 15, 2015

Bernie Sanders earned a hearty applause from the audience on Saturday when he compared his lofty tax plans with that of former President Dwight Eisenhower.

“I’m no more socialist than Eisenhower,” Sanders said of the Republican president under whom the marginal tax rate was 92%.

The Vermont senator, who self-identifies as a “Democratic Socialist” has said he would raise the marginal tax rate for the wealthiest Americans to something well below 90%, although he did not give an exact number. Sanders defended his tax plan as the debate pivoted from the issue of national security to domestic policies.

Saturday wasn’t the first time Sanders joked that Eisenhower was more “socialist” than he is, based on taxes. “When radical, socialist Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, I think the highest marginal tax rate was something like 90%,” Sanders said in an interview last May.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Sanders’ preference for a top marginal tax rate.

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