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Bernie Sanders, In Boston: Democratic Party Needs To Focus On Working Class

In this Jan. 21, 2016, file photo, then-Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a campaign stop in Peterborough, N.H. (Matt Rourke/AP)
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In this Jan. 21, 2016, file photo, then-Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a campaign stop in Peterborough, N.H. (Matt Rourke/AP)

In Boston on Sunday night, former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders asked Democrats to pay close attention to the lessons of the election, arguing that the party needs to have a reckoning about why it lost.

"The working class of this country is being decimated — that's why Donald Trump won," Sanders said. "And what we need now are candidates who stand with those working people, who understand that real median family income has gone down."

The Vermont senator spoke to a sold-out crowd of more than 1,000 mostly young people at the Berklee Performance Center, promoting his book, “Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In.”

Asked by a questioner how she could become the second Latina senator in U.S. history, Sanders said a candidate's gender or race isn't enough.

"I have to know whether that Latina is going to stand up with the working class of this country and is going to take on big money interests," Sanders said.

He added:

[H]ere is my point -- and this is where there is going to be a division within the Democratic Party. It is not good enough for somebody to say, 'I'm a woman, vote for me.' No, that’s not good enough. What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industry.

In other words, one of the struggles that you’re going to be seeing in the Democratic Party is whether we go beyond identity politics. I think it’s a step forward in America if you have an African-American CEO of some major corporation. But you know what, if that guy is going to be shipping jobs out of this country, and exploiting his workers, it doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot whether he’s black or white or Latino.

Sanders was recently added to Senate Democrats’ leadership team, taking on the position of head of outreach for the caucus.

Editor's Note: This post was compiled using Simón's reporting for our broadcast Newscast Unit. Hearing from many users, we decided to update it with a longer transcript of Sanders' remarks. 

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Simón Rios Twitter Reporter
Simón Rios is a reporter in WBUR's newsroom. He joined the station after two years at The Standard-Times in New Bedford, where he cut his teeth covering immigration and business.

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