Sen. Bernie Sanders further expanded on when he would be interested in working with President-elect Donald Trump and when the Vermont independent will vigorously oppose the incoming president.
Speaking at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast on Thursday, Sanders, who unsuccessfully challenged Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential primaries, said that Trump ran as an anti-establishment populist, pledging not to cut Social Security or Medicare and raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour.
“During the campaign, he said a lot and we will find out soon enough about whether what he said was sincere,” Sanders said.
But the senator also said certain Trump positions, such as the president-elect’s view that climate change is a hoax, were not negotiable.
“I would very much hope that he recognizes that point of view is out of touch,” he said.
Sanders said he hoped Trump would “forget about the racism, forget about the Islamophobia.”
“The American people would be very anxious to hear him say, ‘I said terrible things on the campaign,’” Sanders said. “I want to focus on the real issues of the American people.”
Sanders also spoke about his new position in the Democratic Senate caucus as chairman of outreach, which, he said, is important given the low voter participation in the last presidential election.
“I just got this title yesterday,” he said jokingly. “I initially understand my role [is] to bring these people into the political process.”
Sanders also spoke about the difficulty Democrats had attracting white working-class voters in the last election.
He appeared to take a shot at Clinton without mentioning her name when he said that it’s not possible to be a candidate of corporate America and then turn around and fashion oneself as a candidate of the middle class.
Four Democratic senators will be up for re-election in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan in the 2018 midterm elections. While President Barack Obama carried all four states, home to a large number of white working-class voters, in both his elections, Clinton lost them all this year. (The Michigan race has still not been called as of press time, though Trump leads Clinton by just over 11,600 votes in the latest Associated Press count.)
Sanders said Democrats should campaign on raising wages, pay equity and other progressive matters.
“If those candidates run on those issues, yeah, they will win,” he said.