Smiley asked Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, about a “storyline” of the race that “thanks to Bernie Sanders and his leftist point of view, he’s now pulling Hillary Clinton to the left, which basically means you’re pulling the Democratic party to the left, and you’re pulling the party to the left of the American people.”
“Is that going to doom the Democrats, no matter who the nominee is, when it comes to November 2106?” Smiley asked.
“Boy, I disagree, Tavis, with everything that was in that statement,” Sanders said in response, arguing that “virtually every position that I am advocating has the strong support of the American people.”
As examples, Sanders cited his plans for a “massive” federal jobs program, for requiring the wealthy and corporations to pay their “fair share” of taxes, for guaranteeing workers family and medical leave and for making public colleges and universities “tuition free.”
“We are not going to get the kind of voter turnout that we need, we’re not going to get young people, we’re not going to get working-class people, we’re not going to get low-income people to begin participating in the political process and voting unless we talk about the issues that are relevant to their lives,” Sanders said.
In recent weeks, Clinton has adopted several positions that Sanders had previously taken, including opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline. She has also talked during her campaign about the economy being “rigged” against the middle-class, echoing the language of Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a favorite of the party’s left.
Sanders also told Smiley that he continues to believe there should be more debates, which he said he help broaden his exposure in a race which Clinton began as the far better-known candidate.
“Some people like her, some people don’t, but she’s known by almost everybody,” Sanders said.
(A Washington Post-ABC News poll released Tuesday found that most Democrats thought Clinton had won the debate and that she had regained much of the ground she lost during a summer of controversy.)
Sanders took issue with Smiley asking if he had “aided and abetted” Clinton during the first debate by saying the public was tired of hearing about the controversy surrounding her use of a private e-mail server while secretary of state.
“I don’t think I aided and abetted anybody,” Sander said. “I think what I said is what most people feel. There is a process underway assessing the whole e-mail situation. Let it play out. But what the American people want to hear is the real issues that are impacting their lives, not Hillary Clinton’s life, not Bernie Sander’s life.”
Sanders also offered praise for actor Larry David’s portrayal of him during a “Saturday Night Live” sketch over the weekend.
“I think Larry does a better job imitating me than I do being myself,” Sanders said. “We’ll probably invite him to the next rally and see how good he does.”