Bernie Sanders used his first interview since announcing that he would be running for President in 2020 to address some of the doubts that plagued his unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination in the 2016 primaries.
In a wide-ranging conversation with CBS This Morning, the Vermont Senator admitted that mistakes had been made in the handling of allegations of sexism leveled by members of his campaign team in 2016. “It breaks my heart,” he said.
“I will be very honest in telling you that in retrospect, some of the people who were hired should not have been hired. And some women went through experiences that they should not have.”
But Sanders insisted his 2020 bid would not make the same mistakes: “We are going to have the strongest protocols to protect women and anybody else against any form of harassment. We are going to be training every employee who works for us, and we are going to give people who feel that they’ve been harassed an opportunity to talk to people outside of the campaign. This has been an issue that has upset me, and we are going to rectify it in this campaign.”
Asked what he thinks of capitalism, Sanders said more had to be done to reduce levels of inequality.
“What we see in this country and around the world is a lot of great entrepreneurs. But I think what is happening is we have a system which allows these people to accumulate huge amounts of income and wealth.”
In 2016, the 77-year-old came second to Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries, promising universal healthcare, a higher national minimum wage and free college education: several of these policy ideas remain a part of his plan for capturing the presidency in 2020.
“I believe that people are inherently entitled to healthcare. I believe people are entitled to get the best education they can. I believe people are entitled to live in a clean environment. People are entitled to have decent paying jobs. That’s what I believe,” he said.
Sanders went on to criticize President Donald Trump, saying “it is absolutely imperative that Donald Trump be defeated.” I think it is unacceptable and un-American, to be frank with you, that we have a president who is a pathological liar and it gives me no pleasure to say that, but it’s true.”
“The President is going to say ‘Bernie Sanders wants the United States to become Venezuela’. [But] Bernie Sanders does not want to have the United States become the horrific economic situation that unfortunately exists in Venezuela right now. What Bernie Sanders wants is to learn from other countries around the world. By other countries that are doing a better job in dealing with income and wealth inequality than we are.”
“We have a President who is a demagogue, a President who is leading us in an authoritarian direction – I would hope that the American people don’t believe too much of what he says.”
Sanders has long railed against what he calls “the billionaire class” – and he continued in this vein on Tuesday, denouncing the political acumen of businessman Howard Schultz, who has said he is also considering a shot at the presidency.
“There are a lot of people I know personally who work hard for a living, who make $40,000, $50,000 a year who know a lot more about politics than, in all due respect, does [Howard] Schultz,” said Sanders.
“If you look at polling in this country,” said Sanders, “what you find is that a whole lot of people are dissatisfied with both the Democratic and Republican parties, and more and more people are seeing themselves as independents.
If the Democratic party is going to do well in the future, I think they have to reach out to those independents – including, by the way, a lot of young people and a lot of people of color – and bring them into the Democratic party. And I think I’m in a good position to do that.”