One of the goals of this year’s Democratic National Convention is to unite a divided party. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was former Vice President Joe Biden’s biggest challenger during the Democratic primaries, and some of his supporters have vowed not to support Biden. Sanders joins Judy Woodruff to discuss working with Biden on policy proposals and progressive representation at the DNC.
We know that this week is also about uniting divisions in the Democratic Party.
Earlier this evening, I spoke with Joe Biden's main rival, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
Senator Sanders, thank you so much for joining us.
I'm remembering 2016. You were running for president. You did support Hillary Clinton. You worked for her after she claimed the nomination.
But you seem this week, at least to me, to be more enthusiastic, more committed in this election with Joe Biden as the nominee. Why is that?
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.:
Well, I don't know that that's totally accurate. I did everything I could to see that Hillary Clinton became president. And I'm going to do everything I can to see that Joe Biden becomes president.
But I do appreciate that, as you know, Joe and I, a couple months ago were able to sit down and come up with a proposal, by which we put together six task forces representing progressives, as well as people from his campaign, to work out proposals on some of the most important issues facing this country.
And all of the people there worked pretty hard. And we came out with some pretty good proposals, such that, Judy, I think, if those proposals are implemented, it will make Joe Biden the most progressive president since FDR. So, I feel good about that.
I want to ask you about that, because, Senator, we have heard some progressives this week say they are disappointed there haven't been more progressive voices heard at this convention.
And we just learned today that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who, of course, ran for the Democratic nomination this year, he's going to be the last — as we understand it, the last politician to speak in introducing Joe Biden tonight.
Are you OK with that?
Sen. Bernie Sanders:
Well, I would — given the fact that the progressive movement in this country is moving forward very, very vigorously — we are attracting more and more supporters. We're winning more and more elections.
If your question is, would I have preferred to see more progressives up there on the stage, representing the needs of working families, representing the need to combat climate change, dealing in a vigorous way with immigration reform and criminal justice reform, the short answer is, yes, I would have liked much — very much liked to have seen more progressives up there on the stage.
And you said a moment ago, Senator, that you worked with these six task forces to influence the platform, to influence Joe Biden in this campaign.
But you know as well as anybody that platforms in the past are not always paid a whole lot of attention to by presidents who get elected.
So, how much influence, access do you think you are realistically going to have with Joe Biden if he's elected?
Well it's not just me.
Joe is a good politician. And I use that in the best sense of the word. And in a democratic society, what a president has got to sense is where the American people are coming from.
And I think Joe fully understands that we cannot continue, for example, to have millions of our workers employed at starvation wages, that we need to raise that minimum wage to a living wage, that we need to make it easier for workers to join unions, that we need to be vigorous in combating climate change.
I think Joe Biden understands all of that, and that we are living in an unprecedented moment in American history, where so many people are hurting, unemployed, don't have any health insurance, worried about getting evicted from their homes, can't feed their families.
I think Joe understands that reality, and will act accordingly.
And I wanted to ask you about that, because I'm curious to know, what do you say to your supporters who look at Joe Biden, and they say, he's not for Medicare for all, he's not for the Green New Deal with regard to climate change, he's not for defunding the police?
What do you say to them?
What I say to my supporters is, we fought a vigorous campaign. We put together an unprecedented grassroots movement, but we lost.
And, right now, our immediate task is to defeat the most dangerous president in the history of this country, a person who is a pathological liar, who doesn't believe in science, and is undermining American democracy, a person who basically said that, if he loses this election, by definition, it is rigged. That's what Donald Trump is saying. He doesn't believe that he could lose the election.
So, Senator, in essence, you're saying, if Joe Biden is elected, he's not only going to face serious opposition from the right, from the Republican Party. He's going to face a lot of pressure from the left.
Well, he's going to face — I think I wouldn't phrase it pressure from the left.
What he's going to face is an American people who are hurting today. He's going to face young people who are going deeply into debt because of the crime of going to college. They want action.
Well, in the meantime, he's going to be working to get elected, and you're going to be out there trying to help him.
Senator Bernie Sanders, we thank you very much.
Thank you, Judy.
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