Asked by host Jimmy Kimmel why Americans seem to gravitate toward candidates who talk the toughest after episodes like that in Brussels, the senator from Vermont said he understood to some degree.
“I think people get afraid, and for good reasons,” Sanders said during a late afternoon taping the late-night show on ABC. “ISIS is a disgusting, barbaric organization. … But what we have to understand is we’re not going to undermine the constitution of the United States of America.”
The show was recorded before Tuesday’s results of Democratic nominating contests in Arizona, Idaho and Utah were known, but Sanders told Kimmel he was hopeful about his prospects against Hillary Clinton.
“Do you feel optimistic about winning any of those states?” Kimmel asked.
“Oh yeah, I do,” Sanders said. “You never can tell, and I’m not into speculation.”
He cited a large crowd that turned out for a rally of his in Utah as reason for optimism, as well as a recent poll showing him soundly beating Republican front-runner Donald Trump in a hypothetical general-election match-up.
Earlier in the show, Kimmel confessed that he didn’t think there would be a compelling reason to have Sanders on the show at this point. He was last a guest in October.
“I thought this is a very smart guy, he has some very interesting ideas, he obviously loves his country, but there’s no way we’ll still be seeing him in March, and yet here you are,” Kimmel said.
Are you surprised? Kimmel asked.
“Yes and no,” Sanders said. “I thought the message that we had that there’s something wrong when the middle class in this country is disappearing, people are working longer hours for lower wages, we have so much poverty, almost all the new income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent, I did know that that was a message that would resonate.”
Kimmel pointed out that Clinton’s negative ratings are historically high, and he asked Sanders -- who has talked extensively about her Wall Street ties, among other liabilities -- if he bore any responsibility.
“No, I don’t,” Sanders said. “What I have tried to do in this campaign is focus on the real issues impacting the American people. … We have been very careful about not attacking Secretary Clinton in a personal way. Other people do that. We have not.”
Sanders went on to mention that one of the differences between him and Clinton is that she has several super PACs working on her behalf.
“I know you don’t have a super PAC,” Kimmel said, “but I did get you a fanny pack.”
Sanders laughed heartily as the blue and yellow fanny pack with his first name on it was presented.
One of the other lighter moments in the broadcast occurred when Kimmel noted Sanders seems like a pretty serious guy.
“If you are elected president, will we still have like the Easter egg roll?” Kimmel asked.
Sanders started answering before he had finished the question: “Only if all of the children are very, very serious about that roll. No frivolity in my presidency. It’s all no work, no pleasure.”