'I Think We're Gonna Win This Thing': Sen. Bernie Sanders On 2020 Campaign

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Sen. Bernie Sanders, speaks at an event in Rapid City, S.D. (Kristina Barker/AP)
Sen. Bernie Sanders, speaks at an event in Rapid City, S.D. (Kristina Barker/AP)

Sen. Bernie Sanders thinks he’s going to win the Democratic nomination.

The Independent senator from Vermont is running for president on a platform pushing for "Medicare for All," the Green New Deal, tuition-free public colleges, legalizing marijuana and increasing taxes on wealthy Americans.

Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren are the two progressives running second and third behind former Vice President Joe Biden. Presumably, either Sanders or Warren would double their poll numbers if one of them backed out.

“Frankly, I have a great deal of confidence that at the end of the day, because of the ideas that we are fighting for, the momentum that we have ... a poll came out the other day that had us in first place in New Hampshire — I think we're gonna win this thing,” Sanders says.

Sanders isn’t ready to bow out to double the chances of his ideas winning because he promoted those ideas first during his 2016 campaign — before Warren, he says.

“These are not new ideas to me, and many of the ideas that I introduced that were seemingly radical four years ago are now kind of mainstream, adopted by many other candidates,” Sanders says. “And my job as a candidate is not just to defeat Donald Trump — the most dangerous president in the history of this country — but it is to transform our government and our economy so that it works for all of us, not just the 1%.”

Interview Highlights 

On Biden criticizing Sanders for not saying how much he would raise taxes on the middle class to pay for Medicare for All

“Let me respond to my friend, Joe Biden. And Joe wants to maintain and continue a wasteful, dysfunctional and cruel health care system, which is costing us twice as much per person as the people of any other country are paying. Canadians are spending, for example, 50% per person of what we're spending. They manage to cover every man, woman and child in their country. Now, I would ask Joe Biden to tell us under his plan, how many millions of people will remain uninsured? How many millions of people or tens of millions of people will remain underinsured with high premiums and copayments and out-of-pocket expenses? How much will the cost of prescription drugs, which are now the highest in the world, how much will those costs go up? So Biden has a lot to explain to the American people about his plan, which I suppose is consistent with the fact that he has people on his super PAC, which includes representatives of the insurance industry. So Joe has to explain what his plan will cost the American people in ever-increasing premiums and copayments.

“Now, to answer your question, we have brought forth an outline and several options of how we would pay for our plan. And the truth is that any plan, health care plan will undergo significant debate in the Congress. So I didn't think it was necessary to outline how every nickel would be spent because it's gonna be changed in Congress, but clearly, it'll be funded in a progressive way. And the result is that when you eliminate all premiums, people will not be paying any more premiums, businesses will not be paying any more premiums, no copayments, no deductibles, no out-of-pocket expenses. Yes. And after we eliminate the first $29,000 from taxation, people will be paying more in taxes. But the increased taxes that they will be paying will be significantly less for the overwhelming majority of people than the savings they receive by not paying for premiums and copayments and out-of-pocket expenses.”

On how he is feeling after having a heart attack 

“Well, first of all, I want to thank people from all over this country for their prayers and their well-wishes. It has meant a lot to me and to my family. And I'm feeling excellent right now. We're back on the campaign trail full time, and I do appreciate the love and the concern that so many have shown.”

On the House impeachment inquiry

“I think that in many ways, the House doesn't really have a choice. When you have a president who, I think, is guilty of obstruction of justice, who is guilty of violation of the Emoluments Clause because he is enriching himself through the office of president, when it is clear that he used U.S. military aid to Ukraine to try to get dirt on a political opponent, if you ignore that reality, you set a precedent for future presidents to say, 'I could do anything I want. The Constitution and the impeachment process doesn't mean anything.' And whether it's good politics or bad, who knows? But I think they have got to go forward. But I do think that through that entire process, the American people will learn that this president is not only a pathological liar — I don't know that he actually knows the difference between truth and lies — but that his administration is probably the most corrupt administration in the modern history of this country.”

On what he would do in his first 100 days as president 

“We begin the process of creating an economy and a government that works for all, not just the 1%. And we will tackle the reality that we have more income and wealth inequality in America today than any time since the 1920s. So we will bring forth, working with our friends in Congress, legislation that substantially changes our tax code. We will most certainly introduce legislation that tackles the existential threat of climate change and the need to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel. We will introduce Medicare for All legislation, legislation to make public colleges and universities tuition-free, immigration reform, criminal justice reform. You know, you will find that the U.S. Congress can chew bubble gum and walk at the same time. We can go forward in addressing the real needs of working families and taking on the greed and corruption of the corporate elite.”

On what being a democratic socialist means to him 

“What it means is picking up on the legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who understood that economic rights are human rights, that people are entitled to healthcare as a human right, that our people are entitled to be able to get all of the education that they need as a human right, which is why we're gonna make public colleges and universities tuition-free and cancel student debt.

“Look what you see all over the world are governments who are standing up for working people, not just unfettered capitalism. So all that I am talking about is creating a nation where you have a government that works for all and not just gives tax breaks to billionaires.”

Jill Ryan and Ciku Theuri produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Kathleen McKenna. Samantha Raphelson adapted it for the web. 

This segment aired on October 31, 2019.

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