RADDATZ: That’s Hillary Clinton’s top rival, Bernie Sanders there, working the crowds this week on New Year’s Eve. In just a moment, Bernie Sanders will join me.
But first we go inside the growing feud between Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, who’s about to hit the campaign trail for his wife, Hillary, as ABC News Cecilia Vega reports, Trump’s new attacks on his former friend, Bill Clinton, are dominating the Democratic race in the New Year.
CECILIA VEGA, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A year ago it seemed the presidency might be Hillary Clinton’s race to lose.
Who would have thought 12 months later a Democratic Socialist from Vermont and a billionaire reality TV star would pose the biggest threat to her dreams?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Are you ready for a radical idea?
VEGA: Her main challenger, Senator Bernie Sanders, continues to draw large and enthusiastic crowds.
SANDERS: We have received 2.5 million individual contributions, more than any campaign in the history of the United States of America.
VEGA: And this week a twist, ugly attacks from a former friend. Just a few years ago, Trump had nothing but praise for the Clintons…
TRUMP: Hillary is a great friend of mine, her husband is a great friend of mine, they’re fantastic people.
VEGA: Now aiming his attacks only at his potential rival, but taking shots at Hillary’s husband as well.
TRUMP: She wants to accuse me of things? And the husband is one of the great abusers of the world? Give me a break. Give me a break.
VEGA: Those attacks not stopping Clinton from bringing what she calls her secret weapon to the campaign trails.
Tomorrow, the former president heads to New Hampshire, a place where both Clintons have enjoyed political comebacks. But this time, this is Sander’s backyard where he’s been leading in the polls since August.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let’s make this happen. I need your help. I need your support.
VEGA: For This Week, Cecelia Vega, ABC News, New York
RADDATZ: Our thanks to Cecelia.
Bernie Sanders is hard at work on the campaign trail this holiday weekend. And he joins me this morning from New Hampshire. Happy new year, Senator Sanders.
We noticed that today is the 25th anniversary of your first day in Congress. Twenty five years, what do you say to critics who say the country needs a president from outside Washington and not a career politician?
SANDERS: Well, what I say is if you study my record, I’m not exactly a career politician. Martha, during my tenure in the Congress, I have taken on virtually every powerful special interest from Wall Street to the insurance companies to the pharmaceutical industry to the military-industrial complex.
What my campaign is about is standing up to the billionaire class today, and making certain that we do not continue to see the decline of the American middle class, where people are working longer hours for lower wages and almost all new income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent. That is the issue that I find that the American people are most concerned about, the decline of the middle class, massive income and wealth inequality, and a corrupt campaign finance system.
RADDATZ: Well, let me take you back to 1990 on election night. This is what you said. “We need a mass movement of tens of millions of people prepared to say that we want national health care, that we want the millionaires and multi-national corporations who are not paying their fair share, to pay their fair share.”
That sounds an awful lot like Bernie Sanders 2015, but you haven’t really been able to create that mass movement. How can we imagine that you’ll do it now?
SANDERS: Well, Martha, we’re doing pretty well. You know, I started this campaign at 3 percent in the polls. There were some polls that had me out recently at 39 percent. Come to my meetings. They’re huge all over the United States of America.
And what we are seeing is mass dissatisfaction on the part of the middle class. We’re seeing people who are really upset that they can’t afford to send their kids to college. They can’t afford childcare. The rich are getting richer; almost everybody else is getting poorer. And what people are saying is, you know, it’s absurd. That with massive income…
RADDATZ: Let me turn to Iowa.
SANDERS: …and wealth inequality…
RADDATZ: Let me turn to Iowa, Senator Sanders. This is what you recently said at a campaign stop.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: Let me tell you a secret, don’t tell anybody. I don’t want to get Secretary Clinton nervous.
SANDERS: I think we’re going to win here in Iowa.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: I don’t know how nervous Secretary Clinton is about that. She has consistently led in the polls in Iowa through the latter part of 2015. What can you possibly do to try to stop that momentum in just four weeks?
SANDERS: Martha, should have been with us in our last trips to Iowa. The turnouts that we’re seeing in big towns and in small towns are extraordinary. The enthusiasm is very, very strong. I think that people are tired of establishment politics and establishment economics. And they are also tired of a corrupt campaign finance system in super PACs that allows billionaires to purchase elections. That’s not what the American people want.
And one of the manifestations of that is the kind of incredible fundraising that we have been doing in terms of small, individual donations. We have 2.5 million small, individual contribution-style campaign. That is more than any campaign in the history of the United States of America, and I think that speaks to the enthusiasm and support that we’re getting at the grassroots.
RADDATZ: Hillary Clinton has Bill Clinton joining her on the campaign trail there in New Hampshire this week. Donald Trump and Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus think Bill Clinton’s sexual history is fair game. Do you?
SANDERS: No, I don’t. I think, you know, we have enormous problems facing this country and I think we got more things to worry about than Bill Clinton’s sexual life. I think — interestingly enough, maybe Donald Trump might want to focus attention on climate change, understand that climate change is not a hoax, as he believes that it is, that maybe Donald Trump should understand that we should raise the minimum wage in this country, which he opposes, and maybe we should not be giving huge tax breaks to fellow billionaires like Donald Trump.
So I think maybe he should focus on those things.
RADDATZ: You have had some very harsh words for Donald Trump recently and you said you wanted to stay away from personal attacks…
RADDATZ: …in this campaign.
RADDATZ: Some of the things you’ve said, like calling him a pathological liar, have been pretty personal.
SANDERS: Yes. The truth is I do not get engaged in personal attacks, but Trump really is over the edge. He has attacked me very ferociously and has called me a liar because I point that out, that nobody else has seen on television thousands of Muslims celebrating the destruction of the Twin Towers.
Time after time, this guy just comes up with things off the top of his head that are lies. And somebody has got to say that he is a pathological liar.
RADDATZ: Senator Sanders, President Obama is reportedly considering executive action that would require unlicensed gun dealers to get licensed by the ATF and conduct background checks on potential buyers. Recent polling shows three in four Americans thinks it’s important that there be bipartisan consensus before implementing gun control. Is an executive action that circumvents Congress the right way to do it?
SANDERS: Well, I wish that we could get bipartisan action on gun safety legislation. I think the American people have been horrified by the mass shootings we’ve seen over the last couple of years. What I think we need to do, among many other things, is do away with the so-called gun show loophole where people are — do not have to go through the instant background check.
Martha, there is a wide consensus, overwhelming majority of the American people believe we should expand and strengthen the instant background checks so that people who should not have guns, are i.e. criminals or people with mental issues, mental health issues, should not guns. I think that’s what the president is trying to do and I think that will be the right thing to do.
RADDATZ: And very quickly, Senator Sanders, on the campaign trail last week, you said that the retaking of Ramadi in Iraq is a model for destroying ISIS and that training of Iraqi troops may have turned things around. Eighty percent of the reason Ramadi is falling is because of coalition air strikes, though. That’s what you think should continue?
SANDERS: Right. I think it has to be Muslim troops on the ground who are fighting for the soul of Islam, supported by U.S., French, U.K., German, other major powers, and using our air superiority.
RADDATZ: Might be very difficult to get those ground troops, but thank you very much, Senator Sanders.
RADDATZ: OK, let me move on in the short time we have. Let me move on to the next few months. “The New York Times” this week looked back through old polls and it turned out those candidates who have led in Iowa or New Hampshire, polls with just one month to go, have lost as often as they have won.
So any predictions of a shakeup?
I want to start with you, Matt. Just look at the races and what you think we’ll see in the next couple of months.
BAI: I would never make a prediction —
RADDATZ: He would never —
BAI: — no, I wouldn’t, at this point —
RADDATZ: — I want you to tell us what’s going to —
BAI: I was there, you know, in Iowa this week. I can tell you that it’s cold and I predict it will stay that way. And I think — this is a very fluid race to me still. Now maybe not. I mean, Alex and I were talking in Iowa. I think that one of the key numbers here is no matter how you divide it up, no matter where the polling’s been, 60-plus percent of the Republican electorate has identified with an extreme outsider, like a Ted Cruz or a Donald Trump or Ben Carson. And that tells you that maybe it doesn’t matter how this thing shakes out in the end, you know, the governing wing of the party, even if they congeal around a candidate, might not have the support.
But I think that’s still very fluid. I think Chris Christie’s very much in play, New Hampshire, and actually getting big crowds in Iowa. Marco Rubio’s still doing quite well. You know, I don’t think Jeb Bush and John Kasich are dead in New Hampshire and I think we’re going to see —
RADDATZ: And you talking — you’re talking Ted Cruz.
CASTELLANOS: — that candidate leading a month out doesn’t win, gosh, I hope that’s right about Ted Cruz in Iowa. But right now, I’d say Ted Cruz does win Iowa. There’s a chance that Donald Trump slightly underperforms because he is doing worse in early states than he is nationally. And usually it’s kind of a tell as you get closer to picking a real president, ehh, maybe he’s not the guy you want in the big chair.
So he underperforms. We go to New Hampshire. What happens there? New Hampshire looks to validate an alternative.
Who is that?
Well, right now, it’s probably Trump again. But that’s the opening for an establishment candidate; I think Rubio is capped by Christie.
What does that mean?
Christie’s got — by Cruz. Christie’s got a lane. If Christie can gel in New Hampshire, that could be the three-way race you’re —
RADDATZ: Well, Rubio had a lot of media energy this week, emerging as the establishment candidate to beat or as “Politico” put it, “establishment rivals rip into Rubio,” but some reality checks to you.
Had David Axelrod tweeting, “But where does he win?”
STEWART: So the key is —
RADDATZ: Where does Rubio win?
STEWART: — the key is Iowa is so important. But as you say, the last at least two cycles we’ve had, the winner of Iowa, who I worked for in the caucuses, did not go onto win the nomination.
The key is having a strong organization and ground game in Iowa but executing the same plan in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada and through the early states.
And racking up that magic 1,237 delegates needed in order to become the nominee. And I see that happening with the candidate who has strong ground game in Iowa, New Hampshire, all through the SEC states and showing that they’re able to be in this for the long haul, which means organization on the ground and the money to maintain as well an air campaign.
And right now I see that between the top three —
RADDATZ: — let’s hit the Democrats, first Sanders —
RADDATZ: — Martin O’Malley.
JONES: You talked about the person we always talk about, Donald Trump. Let’s talk about the person we never talk about, we just heard from.
Bernie Sanders has incredible momentum. He’s had almost a media blackout. We — I mean, he’s almost never the subject of the main conversation. But out in the country, you see a lot of Bernie Sanders support. He got more contributions, individual donors, than anybody in American history. That by itself lets you know something’s going on.
I think he’s going to win Iowa. He may win New Hampshire. And —
RADDATZ: — not afraid —
JONES: I’m not afraid — listen, I love Hillary Clinton. She will be our nominee. But there is something happening in this party that — and when you combine the authenticity of a Bernie Sanders with the popularity of his agenda.
You don’t like his agenda, there’s — being tough on Wall Street, very popular, across the board in America.
RADDATZ: OK. We’ll have a bit more of you guys later.
On Friday, the Democratic National Committee suspended the Bernie Sanders campaign’s access to a critical database after finding his staffers improperly viewed front-runner Hillary Clinton’s proprietary information when a computer glitch made it briefly available. The DNC backed down after Sanders filed suit, but the Sanders campaign has accused party leadership of trying to thwart the Vermont senator’s bid. The DNC has also been accused of trying to help Clinton by limiting the number of debates and scheduling them on low-viewership periods like Saturday nights. Bill Curry, political columnist at Salon.com and former White House counselor to President Clinton, argues that the DNC is deliberately blocking debate and that chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz should resign as a result. “This is supposed to be a political party. In a healthy society, there would be a democratic process in the Democratic Party, by which elected people would be overseeing these issues by making sure there wasn’t just nepotism and insider dealing,” Curry says. “That the political party itself — which is supposed to be the progressive party — has become mortgaged to a small group of Washington insiders, who raise money from large corporate PACs, [and] has become just a dead carcass of what it once was, is the most important piece of information that this contretemps over the data files has emphasized. It’s time for progressives in this country to stand up and demand a genuinely democratic process.”
AMY GOODMAN: Before we go to Phyllis on this issue of Deborah Wasserman Schultz, who is the Florida congress member, who’s head of the Democratic National Committee, Bernie Sanders has not gone this far, but you’re saying she, herself, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, must go. Why?
BILL CURRY: Yeah, absolutely. First of all, you know, when the—Bernie’s spokesperson in the earlier segment did a wonderful job. I would just add, though, that it wasn’t the DNC that shut down the debates. It was Ms. Schultz. There was no meeting. There weren’t no notice. There are no minutes. All the other members of that committee never got to say—there have been at least two vice chairs have come forward and said they read about it after the fact in the newspaper. No one else has claimed to have been informed in advance.
AMY GOODMAN: About?
BILL CURRY: It was a decision that Hillary—about the decision to have—to go from 26 debates in 2008 to six debates, three of them on a weekend, for 2016. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Hillary Clinton made that choice together.
In this contracting dispute, the contractor, a company of which Schultz’s nephew was a principal, and all of the principals have worked either previous—in various ways for different Clinton campaigns in the past, if you’re the Bernie Sanders campaign or the—
AMY GOODMAN: The ones that run the database.
BILL CURRY: The one—I’m sorry, the ones that run the database. For anybody to think they’re getting due process, when there’s such a small cabal making all the decisions—this is supposed to be a political party. In a healthy society, there would be a democratic process in the Democratic Party, by which elected people would be overseeing these issues by making sure there wasn’t just nepotism and insider dealing, and making sure that the public was able to see how this process works. That the political party itself, that what is supposed to be the progressive party, has become mortgaged to a small group of Washington insiders, who raise money from large corporate PACs, who are dependent upon them for their life, who pursue their own careers, that the party itself has become just a dead carcass of what it once was is the most important piece of information that this contretemps over the data files has revealed, or emphasized, because it’s been revealed a hundred other ways, including in the shutting down of debate. It’s time for progressives in this country to stand up and demand a genuinely democratic process—if nothing else, from the Democratic Party, a democratic process.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to bring Phyllis Bennis back into this conversation for the last minute we have. Phyllis, for the overall issues, we talked about what was raised, what wasn’t, by the journalists—they didn’t raise climate change, they didn’t talk about the issue of immigration—but where you feel the Democratic Party is going right now?
PHYLLIS BENNIS: You know, I think that what we were seeing here is that Hillary Clinton is not running in a Democratic Party primary. She’s running in the general election, with the assumption, the entitlement, that she will be the candidate. And that’s a huge problem.
I mean, everything that Bill Curry just said I think is absolutely right. I think that what we have to recognize is that this so-called two-party system is not working. This is what we’re seeing in Spain in the victory of Podemos over the weekend and the possibility of breaking the monopoly of a two-party system where there’s just not enough differences on certain key issues. There are differences—I don’t want to minimize the differences between the two parties here—but they’re not nearly what they need to be, and there’s not a democratic process within either party. We don’t have a democratic democracy—small-d democrat. So, I think that what we’re looking at is a situation in which the clear differences—there are clear differences on climate, there are clear differences on the economy. I disagree a little bit—
AMY GOODMAN: We have 10 seconds.
PHYLLIS BENNIS: I disagree that there was not clarity from Bernie Sanders. I think he made a very compelling case on the economic side. On the issues, the crucial issues of war, the notion that you can go to war against terrorism, none of these candidates were prepared to say, “You can’t bomb terrorism. You can only bomb people, and that creates more terrorism, not less.”
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’ll have to leave it there. But, of course, we’ll continue to cover these issues. Phyllis Bennis, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, and Bill Curry, weekly columnist with Salon.com. We’ll link to your articles.
DICKERSON: We’re back now with Senator Bernie Sanders, who is in Burlington, Vermont, this morning.
Senator Sanders, the president is going to address the nation tonight. If you were president, what would you say?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I would say is that we have got to be as aggressive as we can in destroying ISIS, but we have to learn the lessons of the past.
And that means we cannot do it alone. It must be an international coalition, in which the Muslim nations are the troops on the ground. King Abdullah of Jordan, whose country has been playing a heroic role dealing with refugees and ISIS, made the point that it is the Muslim nations that are fighting for the soul of Islam who have got to lead the effort in crushing ISIS. The United States, the U.K., France, Russia, Iran, other countries around the world have got to be supportive, but the troops on the ground have got to be Muslim nations.
And I believe very strongly that we need to put that coalition together. We need to put it together as soon as possible. But I do believe we have got to learn the lessons from Iraq.
I hear a lot of tough talk coming from my Republican opponents out there. They are really tough guys. But I heard that back in 2002 from George W. Bush. He was wrong. The invasion of Iraq was one of the worst foreign policy blunders in the history of this country and in many ways precipitated exactly where we are today.
So, yes, we have got to be tough, but we have got to be smart. And that means an international coalition with Muslim troops on the ground supported by Western democracies with airpower and other military efforts.
But the troops on the ground to crush ISIS have got to be led by the Muslim nations.
DICKERSON: That’s the foreign policy piece.
What is your feeling — what would you message be about America and the threat in the homeland security sphere of this conversation?
SANDERS: Well, obviously, we have got to do everything that we can to protect the American people. That’s a no-brainer.
And that means much tougher screening policies than we have right now. I think Secretary of Homeland Security Johnson is right. We should have more agents placed in other countries around the world. And it’s not just Muslim countries that we have to worry about. There are other countries as well that people can slip in to this country.
Second of all, I think we need to do much, much better work, not only in our intelligence efforts, but in coordinating international intelligence. I think, clearly, Paris was an intelligence failure. And we need to be tapping the intelligence information that is being ascertained from countries all over the world.
DICKERSON: Democrats are going to notice that you didn’t list gun control in your responses. A lot of Democrats, including the president, who will address it tonight, think gun control is an answer to this.
SANDERS: No, I — well, I was just at a press conference the other day talking about the need for gun — increased gun control.
I don’t think anybody believes it’s a magic formula. Clearly, though, there is an obvious commonsense consensus, John, in this country that guns should not be falling into the hands of people who should not be having them.
And, obviously, that goes without saying. I don’t think it’s very hard to understand that terrorists or potential terrorists should not have guns. People who are being barred from flying on airplanes should not have guns. I believe we must improve and expand instant background checks.
I believe we have got to do away with this gun show loophole. About 40 percent of the guns in this country are sold outside of the purview of the instant background check process. I think we need — I agree with “The New York Times.” I think it does not make sense to me that we have guns designed for military purposes that can kill enormous numbers of people in a very short period of time being sold and distributed in the United States.
And I support a ban on assault weapons. I think we need to do away with the straw man provision so that people can legally buy guns, but then give them to criminals.
And I think we need a revolution in mental health. And that revolution is about making sure that the many thousands of people who are walking the streets of America today who are suicidal or homicidal get the help they need, and they get it now, not two months from now.
Senator Sanders, we need to take a break right now, but we’re going to ask you to stay with us.
And we will be back with Senator Sanders in a moment.
DICKERSON: CBS News will carry President Obama’s address to the nation tonight on the San Bernardino shooting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 5:00 p.m. Pacific. Scott Pelley will anchor our special report.
We will be right back.
DICKERSON: Some of our CBS stations are leaving us now, but, for most of you, we will be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION, including more with Senator Bernie Sanders and our political panel.
Stay with us.
DICKERSON: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. I’m John Dickerson.
We’re back with Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders.
Senator Sanders, I want to continue on with the conversation a little bit with — of on gun control. So many Democratic voters I’ve talked to in the wake of the San Bernardino shootings are concerned about this. One of the questions they wanted to ask — wanted me to ask you is whether you regret having voted to protect gun manufacturers, giving them that immunity. What’s your feeling on that now?
SANDERS: Well, I come from a rural state that has no gun control at all. I think the votes that I have cast over the last 25 years have been strong votes for protecting the American people from gun violence. That one particular vote, there were thing in it that make sense to me. There are things in it that do not make sense to me and I’ve said many times, I’m willing to rethink that piece of legislation and make it more effective. If a gun manufacturer understands and knows that the product that he is selling to a community is really getting out to criminal elements, that gun manufacturer should be held liable for what the company is doing.
DICKERSON: In retrospect, though, do you think it was a mistake, that vote?
SANDERS: There were elements in that vote back then that did make sense. In the sense that if a small gun shop owner in the state of Vermont sells a product, a gun, legally to somebody else who then goes out does something crazy, do I think that that small gun shop owner should be held liable for legally selling the product, no, I don’t. But I think, bottom line is, that we should be rethinking that legislation and we should be doing everything that we can as a country to make sure that weapons do not get into the hands of people who should not have them.
DICKERSON: Because of your experience from a rural state and your understanding of that, you’ve talked about being a bridge builder between the Democrats, who would like to see gun control and Second Amendment, those who care about the Second Amendment. So tell me how you would build that bridge in this instance, because when I talked to some conservatives they say, look, this is a situation in which a man went and killed his co-workers and a mother dropped of her six month old baby. You’re not going to stop those kind of premeditated killers with any gun control.
SANDERS: Well, let me answer it in two ways. For a start, there is a split, a political split on this country on guns, and everybody knows that. Every poll indicates that. But I think, John, there is a broad consensus of focusing on the reality that the vast majority of the American people, not everybody, by the way, but the vast majority understand that we have got to do everything that we can to prevent guns from falling into the hands of people who should not have them.
And who are those people? Obviously, criminal people. People who are in to domestic violence. People who will use guns to kill other people. People who are mentally ill and should not have those guns. The vast majority of the American people believe that. And I believe that what we should be doing is improving and expanding instant background checks.
Second of all, if you believe that, which most Americans believe, but most Americans also believe is you don’t want an obvious loophole that allows guns to be sold to people who are criminals or mentally ill. That means shut — ending the gun show loophole.
DICKERSON: Senator —
SANDERS: That means ending the strong man situation.
DICKERSON: I don’t want to leave without —
SANDERS: And I think there is a consensus, John. Yes.
DICKERSON: Let’s talk about climate change. I know that was an important issue for Democrats this week. You got a new plan coming out. It has a carbon tax as a part of it. Might that not scare people who think they’re —
DICKERSON: Tell me about that.
SANDERS: All right. Well, John, I mean this is not a plan for Democrats. Pope Francis recently said something, which I think is profound, and he’s right, as he often is. And what he said is, this planet is on a suicidal direction in terms of climate change. And it is beyond my comprehension that we can have a Republican Party and Republican candidates who are more concerned about getting huge campaign contributions from the Koch brothers and Exxon Mobil and the coal industry than they are about accepting what the overwhelming majority of scientists are saying. And that is, climate change is real, caused by human activity and already causing major and devastating problems in our country and around the world.
And what the scientists are telling us — we are — telling us is, if we do not act boldly and aggressively now, which is what my legislation does, massive cuts in carbon pollution, if we don’t do it now, the planet that we are going to be leaving to our children and grandchildren may very well be uninhabitable and in much worse shape than the planet is today. We have a moral obligation to move aggressively to transform our energies —
SANDERS: Away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy and that is what my legislation does.
DICKERSON: All right.
SANDERS: So if you want to talk about being frightened, I am frightened about the planet we’re going to leave our kids if we don’t act.
DICKERSON: All right, Senator Bernie Sanders, we’re going to have to leave it there. Thank you so much for being with us.
Dennis House: The Berlin High School football recruiting scandal continues tonight. Eyewitness News has learned it cost you the taxpayer tens of thousands of dollars. Eyewitness News reporter Matthew Campbell is live at Veterans Memorial Stadium in New Britain where the rivalry between Berlin and New Britain is about to go down.
Matthew Campbell: The game’s gonna kick in about an hour or so and let me tell you the bad blood will be boiling over between New Britain and Berlin. Take a look behind me as the band just actually came into the stadium. There’s two separate entrances: one for New Britain and one for the Berlin fans as well.
And extra security has been added here all after this recruiting scandal that was uncovered by New Britain. Now if it wasn’t uncovered, taxpayers in Berlin would continue paying for players that didn’t live there.
As another chapter in the annual wishbone rivalry is about to be written, an asterisk will forever be placed to this year’s game after the CIAC Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference discovered Berlin was recruiting players from New Britain.
Stephanie Santa: “…I feel very sorry for these boys because they were given something and then it was taken away.”
Matthew Campbell: The four ineligible players from New Britain were taking away spots on the field and seats in the classroom that were always intended for kids from Berlin.
Carol Argazzi: “…weren’t able maybe to have a position on the team because somebody else unfairly took it from them.”
Matthew Campbell: The CIAC handed down punishments this week. The four players from New Britain are banned from ever playing again. Berlin head coach John Capodice suspended by the district. But the scandal goes far beyond the gridiron. It hits taxpayers in their wallets.
Dr. Karissa Niehoff: “Each district is a little bit different but it for a family to come in and take advantage of another school’s resources like that, you know, if you do it for multiple years, you’re talking a lot of money.”
Matthew Campbell: In Berlin the superintendent confirms that each high school student cost taxpayers $14,982 a year. In these four cases that’s money that was being spent on New Britain kids seemingly just to gain an edge here on the field.
Stephanie Santa: “I feel pretty robbed.”
Matthew Campbell: Taxpayers will foot another bill. The CIAC fined Berlin $4,000: a thousand for each violation. The team also had to vacate all wins. So the majority of players, all of whom are innocent, have no shot at the playoffs.
Stephanie Santa: “I feel really bad for the football players because they’ve worked really, you know, from Berlin, well all of them, but they’ve worked really hard for these wins and those were also taken away.”
Matthew Campbell: A live look here at Veterans Memorial as this game will kick in about an hour. And this game will be played for pride. Roaming the sidelines for Berlin will be assistant coach Rob Levesque. The long-term future for Coach Capodice: that’s still unknown.
That’s the latest live here with the mobile newsroom in New Britain.
There are approximately 5,000 unaffiliated registered voters in Berlin, Connecticut in comparison to approximately 4,000 Democratic voters and 3,000 Republican voters. There must be reasons why voters did not register with either of the two major political parties.
Perhaps one of the reasons so many voters registered as unaffiliated was because of their disgust with major political parties. At the national level, our government has encountered gridlock on many important issues, leaving serious problems unresolved. Immigration, tax reform, money in politics, unfair trade agreements, invasion of privacy, are just some of the issues that a majority of American voters want addressed in this country.
On the Town Council in Berlin, Connecticut, we have witnessed voting by members on key important financial matters along strict party lines even though each election cycle we have been assured that they would reach across the aisle to work with those who belong to a different political party. The result, in my opinion, has been the party in power succeeding in promoting its party’s economic agenda, whether it be in the best interests of the citizens of Berlin.
Results of referendums have been largely ignored, if not dismissed entirely. Taxes this year have increased 4.7% over those of the previous year even though real disposable income of the majority of Berlin residents have not been increasing. Businesses have closed while it has been rumored that some new businesses have shunned Berlin, going to adjacent towns. Even some residents have voiced concerns over fear of being targeted by employees of the Town of Berlin, Connecticut. Do you recall the Berlin coaches who feared coming forward publicly to address their concerns with the Town’s School Board?
Are special interests controlling our two major political parties? Are small cliques of our citizens—who lead and/or control these two political parties—attempting to benefit from these two major political parties? Do governmental unions control one political party in Town? Do certain individuals control the other political party in Town, preventing the free expression of views and participation of all of its members?
If Berlin citizens support and vote for individuals running as independent candidates, perhaps we can change the political climate on our Town Council. For instance, if three Democrats and three Republicans need the vote of the independent candidate on the Town Council, perhaps then control of our Town can be wrested from the dominance of any one political party, which would ordinarily be in control of the Town Council by the mere fact that seven members serve on it.
Let’s consider electing an independent, unaffiliated voter to represent the majority of citizens living in the Town of Berlin. If you are interested in supporting this proposal, forming a committee to nominate a candidate, petitioning citizens to place an independent candidate on the ballot, or running for office on the Town Council in Berlin, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chuck Todd: Senator Sanders, welcome back to Meet the Press. And let me start with an issue you are going to be dealing with in a few hours, I know you will be flying back from Minneapolis to Washington for the special Senate session: the NSA, the Patriot Act, Section 215. I assume you are a supporter of the USA Freedom Act. Are you? Is that where you will be voting?
Bernie Sanders: I may well be voting for it. It doesn’t go as far as I would like it to go. I voted against the original Patriot Act. I voted against the reauthorization of the Patriot Act.
Look, we have got to be vigorous in fighting terrorism and protecting the American people, but we have to do it in a way that protects the constitutional rights of the American people. And I am very, very worried about the invasions of privacy right that we are seeing not only from the NSA and the government but from corporate America as well.
We are losing our privacy rights. It is a huge issue.
Chuck Todd: And the government is going to be asking corporate America to keep this data under the USA Freedom Act. You’re comfortable with that?
Bernie Sanders: No, I am not. But we have to look at the best of bad situations. The question is whether the NSA keeps it. The question is whether it is transferred to the phone companies who by the way already keep records for an extended period of time.
Chuck Todd: You’ve served under two Democratic Presidents: Bill Clinton and Barack Obama which one has been a better progressive champion in your view?
Bernie Sanders: Well, neither one of them have gone as far as I would have liked them to go and that’s one of the reasons what we’re seeing the disappearance of the middle class in this country and a huge increase in income and wealth inequality.
That is why we are not dealing with the fact we have 45 million people living in poverty and why we are still the only major country on earth that doesn’t guarantee health care to all people.
Look, I have a lot of respect for President Obama. I consider him a friend. I disagree with him on issues like that TPP or the extension of tax breaks that Bush initiated. But I think history will judge President Obama a lot better than many other of his contemporaries, given the fact that he came into office at a time when this country was in terrible, terrible shape.
Chuck Todd: You singled out President Obama for praise but not President Clinton. Why?
Bernie Sanders: Look I think Bill Clinton did a very good job as well. I disagree with him strongly on NAFTA, permanent normal trade relations with China. I’m a strong opponent of these disastrous trade agreements which have cost us millions of decent paying jobs. I am helping to lead the opposition against the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
I also very strongly disagreed with President Clinton on the deregulation on Wall Street. I opposed that strenuously and I think the results prove that when you allow the greed and recklessness of Wall Street to go unchecked, you’re going to end up where we are today and where we were eight years ago.
Chuck Todd: You know it’s interesting when you watch chief primary opponent right now, Secretary Hillary Clinton, on some key issues she has changed her position to amore progressive view on same-sex marriage, on immigration (that is, over the last 10 years), on NAFTA, on trade, on the Iraq war, on Cuba. She has moved from a position basically in disagreement with you to a position that comes closer to your view.
So I guess is, do you take her at her word and do you think that rhetorically that’s enough?
Bernie Sanders: Look, I have known Hillary Clinton for twenty-five years. I have enormous respect for her and I like her.
And what I hope, Chuck, is that the media will allow us to have a serious debate in this campaign on the enormous issues facing the American people, which is why for the last forty years our middle class has been disappearing, why 99% of all new income generated today is going to the top 1%, and why we have this grotesque level of income and wealth inequality.
I have been–I know a lot of people criticize me in Vermont: they say, oh, Bernie, you have been saying the same thing for thirty years.
Well, it is kind of true. And maybe, you know, it is a badge of honor.
But I have been there. I think we need a political revolution in this country. I think we need to take on the greed of the billionaire class, a disastrous campaign finance system.
Chuck Todd: Do you trust these changes that Hillary Clinton has made or do you think she has been doing it just for primary politics.
Bernie Sanders: I think that is for the American people to decide. I know where I have been on trade agreements, I know where I have been on Walk Street, I know where I have been on the Keystone Pipeline, and Secretary Clinton will obviously explain her position to the American people.
Chuck Todd: This week you have found what it is like to become a nationally recognized candidate for President and potentially a threat to somebody. A leaking of an essay you wrote in the 1970s for an alternative weekly. Your campaign has described it as satire: I’ll be honest with you, Senator Sanders, it’s uncomfortable to read. The only excerpt I am going to put up is you wrote this in February 1972, it was sort of a fantasy of men and women. You said “A woman enjoys intercourse with her man–as she fantasizes being raped by three men simultaneously.” Your campaign described it as satire. Can you explain this essay?
Bernie Sanders: Sure. Look, this is a piece of fiction that I wrote in 1972, that was forty-three years ago. It was very poorly written. And if you read it, what it was dealing with gender stereotypes: why some men like to oppress women; why other women like to be submissive. You know, something like fifty shades of grey. Very poorly written, forty-three years ago.
What I am focusing on right now are the issues impacting the American people today. And that’s what I will continue to focus on and what I think the American people will want to hear.
And by the way, on broader issues, what I think when we talk about issues, Chuck, we need a lot more debates in this campaign. I hope very much that we can begin with the Democratic candidates debates as early as July and have some Republicans in those debates as well.
Chuck Todd: All right, there you go. Senator Sanders calling for July debates. We will go to Secretary Clinton. We are ready to host them right here on Meet the Press. Senator Sanders, stay safe on the trail, we’ll see you back in Washington.
SCHULTZ: Good to have you with us tonight folks. Thanks for watching. We start tonight with the Bernie bump. Bernie Sanders has been on the campaign trail for only two days and he`s already giving Hillary Clinton`s campaign some real headaches. During a campaign event in New Hampshire, his first stop since his official announcement. Senator Sanders spoke with clarity on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: I am helping right now as we speak to lead the opposition to this TransPacific
Partnership trade agreement.
Now, Hillary Clinton can be for the trade agreement the president is.
She can be against the trade agreement. I am, Elizabeth Warren and many others of us are.
But I just don`t know how you don`t have an opinion on this enormously important issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: This is the only sound bite that America wants to hear right now because this is the depressing issue. Now, that is speaking with clarity and that what campaigns are supposed to be about, to let people know exactly where you`re on key issues. Senator Sanders is leading the opposition against the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Meanwhile, we have no idea where Hillary stands on trade. We get a lot of parameters, but we don`t get absolutes. Clinton has said that she has some concerns about the TTP. But overall let’s be serious, this is her main taking point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I have said that I`m going to, you know, make up my mind. I`ve been for trade agreements, I`ve been against trade agreements, voted for some, voted against others. So, I want to judge this when I see what`s exactly is in it and whether or not I think it meets my standards.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Well, respectfully Mrs. Clinton. You were in the United States Senate. The United States Senate has already voted on the trade agreement. They`ve voted last week, and it was passing. No, question about it. Now, it`s up to the House and there`s a lot of Democrats in the House right now that want to know where the leading candidates stands on what is going to be a massive trade deal for this country.
Now, Hillary`s position on trade I think is anything but clear. She`s outlined what she wants in a deal. She`s outline what she wants in a trade deal. But she wants to see exactly what`s in it. Well, hasn`t the Senate seen what`s in it? She want`s to see it before she makes a decision. Give me break.
Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State when this deal was being negotiated. I find it hard to believe that the Secretary of State is so in the dark about the TTP. I agree with Senator Sanders. I find it hard to believe that Hillary Clinton can`t come to the some kind of conclusion on this an absolute, not a parameter of what she`s looking for.
The Clinton campaign is hoping that the House will vote on FastTrack ASAP so they don`t have to deal with this trade issue anymore. Clinton refusal to take a stand on certain issues starting to chip away at her lead in the polls as well, over the past month I know we`re long way away. But she`s going on the wrong direction. Hillary Clinton lost three points on
her lead. Bernie Sanders has jumped 7 points. He`s now at 15 percent. Is this a trend of a bump?
Now with the eight months to go until the first primarily Hillary Clinton shouldn`t be taking anything for granted. We`ve been down this road before.
POLITICO reported today that Hillary Clinton`s campaign is “Frightened of Sanders. Not that he would win the nomination, but he could damage her with the activist base by challenge her on core progressive positions in debates and make her look like a centrist of corporatist”.
Is that what campaigns were all about? Frightened, frightened about the truth. I find that hard to believe. It`s not just trade. Hillary Clinton has been silent on other issue like the Keystone XL pipeline. It`s important to point out Hillary Clinton`s campaign website. It does not have an issues page. I saw that today, you know, I just found that startling.
Senator Sanders`s website has had an issues tab from the start.
So, when do Democrats get to play fair with one another and say “OK, enough is enough, the House is getting ready to vote on this. The Senate has already voted on it. Let`s get an answer”. We`re coming down to the 11th hour on trade in this Congress. Democratic
voters deserve to know where Hillary Clinton`s stands on trade and the TransPacific
Partnership. It`s time for an absolute.
We`ve got an absolute from Bernie Sanders. We have not in fairness, we have not got an
absolute from Hillary Clinton and there`s a lot of people that want to know, if she was still on the Senate, how would you voted Mrs. Clinton.
Is this Bill Clinton`s influence on his wife? He was a free trader. He was for NAFTA. So, what`s going on here? Why can`t we get the absolute answer from Hillary Clinton? Is this loyalty to her former boss, President Obama? That`s a question in itself. When President Obama was in the United States Senate, he said that he was going to do something about currency manipulation.
Well, guess what. This trade deal doesn`t have anything in it about currency manipulation. It doesn`t have anything about investor`s state trade dispute or circumventing American law. Why the hell that we even have representatives in Washington, if we`re going to let International Tribunals tell us how we have to do trade. It`s wrong.
This should be a slam dunk from Hillary Clinton. It is going to be very hard for her and there`s going to be a lot of people who were going to remember that she didn`t take a complete stand on trade before the House voted.
Now, if this is causing political problems for Hillary Clinton. Why in the world would John Boehner bring it to the floor for a vote? Why not make sure Hillary Clinton takes a stand on this. I would venture to say that maybe the Republicans would rather go against Bernie Sanders than Hillary Clinton.
So there`s a lot of political calculations taking place right now. There`s only one sound bite that this broadcaster wants to hear from Hillary Clinton right now and that is where she stands absolutely, just like every union worker in this country stands absolutely oppose to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This should not be that hard.
Get your cellphones out. I want to know what you think. Tonight`s question, “Is the TTP going to cause political problems for Hillary Clinton?” Go to polls.msnbc.com/ed to cast your vote. We`ll bring you the result later on in the show.
So, what are they saying in the middle of county. Let bring in Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan who sits on the House Budget Committee, also with us tonight Scott Paul President of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, gentlemen great to have you with us tonight.
Congressman, I want to know what your constituents are saying in Wisconsin in the middle of the country. Are they even aware of FastTrack and TPP, and are they paying attention to it?
REP. MARK POCAN, (D) WISCONSIN: Ed, they`re very aware of it, just a couple weeks ago I had listening sessions in six counties. I think in every single listening session this came up as an issue.
In fact in Lafayette County, the biggest town in Lafayette County is 2,400 people. They just
lost a company with 36 jobs that`s going to Mexico and they`ve applied for trade adjustment assistance. So we`re still seeing that. If you think about that, that 36 jobs in Darlington is like losing 3,600 jobs in Madison also in my district.
So, this is a big issue people talk about everyone Democrats or Republican should be standing against a trade deal that we don`t know enough about and doesn`t have protections for labor environment had this tribunals, doesn`t have currency manipulation go on and list. There`s many reason to oppose this.
SCHULTZ: Congressman. Do your constituents in Wisconsin in the middle of country. Are they curious about President Obama`s reversal on this? Are they talking about it?
POCAN: I`ve got several times while we do the listing session again as an example, why does the White House support this? And, you know, I think this question was asked of the gentleman who did trade for President Reagan who now opposes these trade deals. He said everything they`re promised back then didn`t come to fruition.
And now, he thinks this is a bad route for Americans and his analysis was that the White House, no matter who`s President, often looks at this for geopolitical reasons and we have allies in the region and how do you give something to your allies in a region especially where China is such a dominate economic force?
The problem is that ignores what I care about most which is that we`re going to lose more jobs here in the United States and we`re going to have wages depress right here at home. To me that is exactly what happens every time we have a trade deal that doesn`t have the proper protections and that`s why anyone should oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership…
POCAN: … if it doesn`t have those things. And I can tell you it doesn`t right now.
SCHULTZ: You know, this isn`t about playing political favorites. I want the audience watching the Ed Show tonight to know. This isn`t about Bernie Sanders. It`s not about Hillary Clinton. It`s not about President Obama. It`s about those folks out there across American who are in this American economy and their future and their stability. That`s what this issue about.
It`s not about choosing of sides. This is an issue and it`s not a cheap shot nor is it negative to step up and say “OK, where does this candidate stand on something that is going to be so huge to our global economy. Where is American going with this?”
Now Scott Paul, you have recently written an oped and you wrote about President Obama when he was a Senator running for the White House. President Obama, Barack Obama said he didn`t get that he`d get tough on currency. But now with an opportunity to do something about it as President he`s change his tune. What do you make of that Mr. Paul?
SCOTT PAUL, ALLIANCE FOR AMERICAN MANUFACTURING: Well, I`d like to see more of the Barack Obama of 2007 and a little less of what we`re seeing today. If he was true to his words in 2007 and I would add if Senator Clinton is true to the words that she spoke back in 2007 as well. Could be no doubt that this process the TPA, the FastTrack
authority and the agreement the Trans-Pacific Partnership would look a lot different than
they are today and that they would represent the interest of working people.
The challenge has been that and I think Rep. Pocan pointed this out that this is become about geopolitics. I think that`s a flawed argument. It`s become about Wall Street. And it`s losing touch with working people across America.
Ed, I would just add that the clarity is simple to happen. I mean Rick Santorum who announce for president yesterday penned an oped.
PAUL: In March calling for dealing with currency manipulation and trade deals a very specifically. There`s an amended that narrowly passed last week that could have a game changer on this. Ed, I would like to hear Senator Clinton talk in the way that she did during the 2007 campaign about this with greater clarity. And I`ll just say this…
PAUL: … I think voters in Iowa and New Hampshire expect an answer. I think they`ll be asking her consistently and I hope they receive one.
SCHULTZ: Well, the Clinton campaign, I`m getting a sense if they want this vote in the House to take place ASAP so they get say “Well, it`s already passed and this is the way it is so we`ll have to deal with it moving forward”. No, I mean this is not a slam dunk in the House right now. And Congressman the votes aren`t there right now.
And this is a huge vacation or should I say working vacation or recess that the Congress is taking right now because they`re getting input from folks back home and this is building. The votes aren`t there or are they Congressman?
POCAN: No, in fact they will pull a vote when the White House and the Republican leadership and Paul Ryan think they have the votes lined up. But I could tell on the House Democratic side, there are only maybe 20 people right now who`re at the yes and all of the rest of us are right no with a…
POCAN: … small number of undecided. And I can tell you that this is something that on the Republican side we think we might have at least 60 votes and growing who don`t want to give up our sovereignty through some of the provision. You talk about the tribunals and other issue.
So, this is not a slam dunk. We`re going to fight this to the last breathe we have. And I hope that are successful because we`re hearing it from our districts if people don`t want this. There are simply not real constituents who say “I think you should pass this”.
SCHULTZ: OK. Now back to currency manipulation for a moment. China and Japan are big players in this deal. Scott Paul, be very clear. They have a record of currency manipulation, correct? And also that Hillary Clinton has said that currency manipulation has to be address.
Well, in this trade deal it is not addressed. So, how much more information does Hillary Clinton have to have to take a definitive stance on this issue, your thought?
PAUL: Ed, it`s very clear and again this is the Democrats and Republicans largely agree on. We have American businesses and labor that agree on this point as well. And even if you don`t think that China and/or Japan are manipulating their currencies today, just as some smart people say “You don`t throw away you umbrella when it`s sunny outside because it`s going to rain again”.
They have a pattern on this, they have a history. We have sky high trade deficits with China and Japan. They cause American jobs all across Wisconsin and Iowa and New Hampshire there are factories that have shuttered form these unfair trade practices.
And if we truly want a trade agreement that represents 21st century interest in the interest of working people. It`s got to deal with currency manipulation. Right now in this country if you`re a hardworking business, if you`re worker and through no fault of your own you lost your job because of unfair trade practice like currency manipulation. You have…
PAUL: … absolutely no recourse, it just happens that`s why we need to this in trade deals and I would love to hear President Obama to use his position on this back to what it was on 2007. More importantly I think it`s important for Senator Clinton to speak out on this, very forcefully and also very specifically about what she expect.
SCHULTZ: OK, Congressman Mark Pocan, Scott Paul, President Alliance American Manufacturing, great to have both of you with us tonight.
You know folks this is what a campaign is about, to take a tough issue and yes, it is a hard choice. But there are absolutes. American jobs and the American economy is going to be injured if we go down this road. And if history be your guide there`s not one trade agreement that this country can turn to even under the Obama years that can say that it hasn`t added to our trade deficit and that`s American jobs.
Remember to answer tonight`s question at polls.msnbc.com/ed. We`ll have the results right after this break. Follow us on Facebook and you could watch my Facebook featured “Give me a minute” and of course you can get my video Podcast at WeGotEd.com.
Andrea Mitchell: Let’s talk about the democrats because to be counter-intuitive contrary to what has been written recently in the New York Times front page about Bernie Sanders and older folks, I am hearing more and more from young people who are really intrigued by Bernie Sanders.
Chuck Todd: That’s right, and I think it’s more of, you know, Hillary Clinton’s reputation is very cautious; okay, she’s risk-averse. When she finally takes a position, just watch her. And look at how she’s campaigned: everything’s been very risk-averse. You know, God forbid, she would ever take a question from you. You know, that type of thing. It is very risk averse.
Bernie and the young millenials, they’re not risk averse. And so I think they’re going to gravitate to a candidate that might be a little more rambunctious, and certainly Bernie Sanders is.
And I think the fascinating thing is three months ago the talk was, is Martin O’Malley going to be enough and how could he be the chief challenger. I’m wondering now how does Martin O’Malley get past Bernie Sanders. And I don’t know if he can. Will he ever be seen as a true blue progressive to those who really want a progressive to send a message. I don’t think they don’t necessarily think that a progressive would beat her in the primary but I think some progressives would like Bernie Sanders to force Hillary Clinton to answer to the left a little bit more.
Andrea Mitchell: And a couple of quick points about Hillary Clinton. They say that they want to raise a hundred million dollars this year for primary money only; [they say] the things that have been written about two billion dollars is crazy. [They say] It will be a hundred million–the same as Barack Obama in both cycles, that’s excluding super PACs. So that’s twenty seven hundred dollar contributions.
They say they have a fifty-state track strategy; they are serious about fighting in the primaries; they’re serious about Iowa; they are trying to lower expectations, saying that, well, nobody except Tom Harkin and the sitting president running has gotten more than 50 percent in the Iowa caucuses. They are trying to low-ball that when she came in third last time around.
And in South Carolina it is really interesting the way she tried to take on both the race and the gender issue. She was campaigning among African-American women and other women as well trying to fix what Bill Clinton messed up so badly in a race where he got accused by many including Jim Clayburn of playing the race card.
Chuck Todd: And this is to me the big gap for Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders in his announcement speech, you know, if you were somebody who cared about civil rights issues, cared about immigration, you didn’t hear much out of Bernie Sanders.
Part of that is he’s a Vermont politician, and he’s never really had to campaign for African-American vote, campaign for Hispanic vote. And this is probably easily like, if things go really bad with the progressive wing for Hillary Clinton on economics and all these things, you know, she still has this. And I think if you look at the way Sanders is running and you’re saying he can intellectually give her a run for her money with sort of liberal white elites but the rank-and-file where the Democratic primary voter is, he is not as disconnected yet to African-American voters or Hispanic voters, and I don’t know how he gets there.
“Thank you all very much for being here and for all the support that you have given me over the years: as the mayor of this great city, as Vermont’s only congressman and now as a U.S. senator. Thanks also to my longtime friends and fellow Vermonters Bill McKibben, Brenda Torpey, Donna Bailey, Mike O’Day and Ben and Jerry for all that you do – and for your very generous remarks. Thanks also to Jenny Nelson for moderating this event and for your leadership in Vermont agriculture.
I also want to thank my family: My wife Jane, my brother Larry, my children Levi, Heather, Carina and Dave for their love and support, and my seven beautiful grandchildren – Sonny, Cole, Ryleigh, Grayson, Ella, Tess and Dylan who provide so much joy in my life.
Today, here in our small state – a state that has led the nation in so many ways – I am proud to announce my candidacy for president of the United States of America.
Today, with your support and the support of millions of people throughout this country, we begin a political revolution to transform our country economically, politically, socially and environmentally.
Today, we stand here and say loudly and clearly that; “Enough is enough. This great nation and its government belong to all of the people, and not to a handful of billionaires, their Super-PACs and their lobbyists.”
Brothers and sisters: Now is not the time for thinking small. Now is not the time for the same old – same old establishment politics and stale inside-the-beltway ideas.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders greets supporters after announcing he is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president at Waterfront Park in Burlington on Tuesday, May 26, 2015.
Now is the time for millions of working families to come together, to revitalize American democracy, to end the collapse of the American middle class and to make certain that our children and grandchildren are able to enjoy a quality of life that brings them health, prosperity, security and joy – and that once again makes the United States the leader in the world in the fight for economic and social justice, for environmental sanity and for a world of peace.
My fellow Americans: This country faces more serious problems today than at any time since the Great Depression and, if you include the planetary crisis of climate change, it may well be that the challenges we face now are direr than any time in our modern history.
Here is my promise to you for this campaign. Not only will I fight to protect the working families of this country, but we’re going to build a movement of millions of Americans who are prepared to stand up and fight back. We’re going to take this campaign directly to the people – in town meetings, door to door conversations, on street corners and in social media – and that’s BernieSanders.com by the way. This week we will be in New Hampshire, Iowa and Minnesota – and that’s just the start of a vigorous grassroots campaign.
Let’s be clear. This campaign is not about Bernie Sanders. It is not about Hillary Clinton. It is not about Jeb Bush or anyone else. This campaign is about the needs of the American people, and the ideas and proposals that effectively address those needs. As someone who has never run a negative political ad in his life, my campaign will be driven by issues and serious debate; not political gossip, not reckless personal attacks or character assassination. This is what I believe the American people want and deserve. I hope other candidates agree, and I hope the media allows that to happen. Politics in a democratic society should not be treated like a baseball game, a game show or a soap opera. The times are too serious for that.
Let me take a minute to touch on some of the issues that I will be focusing on in the coming months, and then give you an outline of an Agenda for America which will, in fact, deal with these problems and lead us to a better future.
Income and Wealth Inequality: Today, we live in the wealthiest nation in the history of the world but that reality means very little for most of us because almost all of that wealth is owned and controlled by a tiny handful of individuals. In America we now have more income and wealth inequality than any other major country on earth, and the gap between the very rich and everyone is wider than at any time since the 1920s. The issue of wealth and income inequality is the great moral issue of our time, it is the great economic issue of our time and it is the great political issue of our time. And we will address it.
Let me be very clear. There is something profoundly wrong when the top one-tenth of 1 percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent, and when 99 percent of all new income goes to the top 1 percent. There is something profoundly wrong when, in recent years, we have seen a proliferation of millionaires and billionaires at the same time as millions of Americans work longer hours for lower wages and we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country on earth. There is something profoundly wrong when one family owns more wealth than the bottom 130 million Americans. This grotesque level of inequality is immoral. It is bad economics. It is unsustainable. This type of rigged economy is not what America is supposed to be about. This has got to change and, as your president, together we will change it.
Economics: But it is not just income and wealth inequality. It is the tragic reality that for the last 40 years the great middle class of our country – once the envy of the world – has been disappearing. Despite exploding technology and increased worker productivity, median family income is almost $5,000 less than it was in 1999. In Vermont and throughout this country it is not uncommon for people to be working two or three jobs just to cobble together enough income to survive on and some health care benefits.
The truth is that real unemployment is not the 5.4 percent you read in newspapers. It is close to 11 percent if you include those workers who have given up looking for jobs or who are working part time when they want to work full time. Youth unemployment is over 17 percent and African-American youth unemployment is much higher than that. Today, shamefully, we have 45 million people living in poverty, many of whom are working at low-wage jobs. These are the people who struggle every day to find the money to feed their kids, to pay their electric bills and to put gas in the car to get to work. This campaign is about those people and our struggling middle class. It is about creating an economy that works for all, and not just the one percent.
Vermonters and non-Vermonters alike flocked to Burlington Tuesday for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ official announcement that he will run for president. We asked them why they came.
Citizens United: My fellow Americans: Let me be as blunt as I can and tell you what you already know. As a result of the disastrous Supreme Court decision on Citizens United, the American political system has been totally corrupted, and the foundations of American democracy are being undermined. What the Supreme Court essentially said was that it was not good enough for the billionaire class to own much of our economy. They could now own the U.S. government as well. And that is precisely what they are trying to do.
American democracy is not about billionaires being able to buy candidates and elections. It is not about the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson and other incredibly wealthy individuals spending billions of dollars to elect candidates who will make the rich richer and everyone else poorer. According to media reports the Koch brothers alone, one family, will spend more money in this election cycle than either the Democratic or Republican parties. This is not democracy. This is oligarchy. In Vermont and at our town meetings we know what American democracy is supposed to be about. It is one person, one vote – with every citizen having an equal say – and no voter suppression. And that’s the kind of American political system we have to fight for and will fight for in this campaign.
Climate Change: When we talk about our responsibilities as human beings and as parents, there is nothing more important than leaving this country and the entire planet in a way that is habitable for our kids and grandchildren. The debate is over. The scientific community has spoken in a virtually unanimous voice. Climate change is real. It is caused by human activity and it is already causing devastating problems in the United States and around the world.
The scientists are telling us that if we do not boldly transform our energy system away from fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energies, this planet could be five to ten degrees Fahrenheit warmer by the end of this century. This is catastrophic. It will mean more drought, more famine, more rising sea level, more floods, more ocean acidification, more extreme weather disturbances, more disease and more human suffering. We must not, we cannot, and we will not allow that to happen.
It is no secret that there is massive discontent with politics in America today. In the mid-term election in November, 63 percent of Americans did not vote, including 80 percent of young people. Poll after poll tells us that our citizens no longer have confidence in our political institutions and, given the power of Big Money in the political process, they have serious doubts about how much their vote actually matters and whether politicians have any clue as to what is going on in their lives.
Combatting this political alienation, this cynicism and this legitimate anger will not be easy. That’s for sure. But that is exactly what, together, we have to do if we are going to turn this country around – and that is what this campaign is all about.
And to bring people together we need a simple and straight-forward progressive agenda which speaks to the needs of our people, and which provides us with a vision of a very different America. And what is that agenda?
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders officially announces his bid for presidency of the United States at Waterfront Park in Burlington on Tuesday, May 26, 2015. Produced by Channel 17 and Burlington Free Press
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: It begins with jobs. If we are truly serious about reversing the decline of the middle class we need a major federal jobs program which puts millions of Americans back to work at decent paying jobs. At a time when our roads, bridges, water systems, rail and airports are decaying, the most effective way to rapidly create meaningful jobs is to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. That’s why I’ve introduced legislation which would invest $1 trillion over 5 years to modernize our country’s physical infrastructure. This legislation would create and maintain at least 13 million good-paying jobs, while making our country more productive, efficient and safe. And I promise you as president I will lead that legislation into law.
I will also continue to oppose our current trade policies. For decades, presidents from both parties have supported trade agreements which have cost us millions of decent paying jobs as corporate America shuts down plants here and moves to low-wage countries. As president, my trade policies will break that cycle of agreements which enrich at the expense of the working people of this country.
Raising Wages: Let us be honest and acknowledge that millions of Americans are now working for totally inadequate wages. The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is a starvation wage and must be raised. The minimum wage must become a living wage – which means raising it to $15 an hour over the next few years – which is exactly what Los Angeles recently did – and I applaud them for doing that. Our goal as a nation must be to ensure that no full-time worker lives in poverty. Further, we must establish pay equity for women workers. It’s unconscionable that women earn 78 cents on the dollar compared to men who perform the same work. We must also end the scandal in which millions of American employees, often earning less than $30,000 a year, work 50 or 60 hours a week – and earn no overtime. And we need paid sick leave and guaranteed vacation time for all.
Addressing Wealth and Income Inequality: This campaign is going to send a message to the billionaire class. And that is: you can’t have it all. You can’t get huge tax breaks while children in this country go hungry. You can’t continue sending our jobs to China while millions are looking for work. You can’t hide your profits in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens, while there are massive unmet needs on every corner of this nation. Your greed has got to end. You cannot take advantage of all the benefits of America, if you refuse to accept your responsibilities.
That is why we need a tax system which is fair and progressive, which makes wealthy individuals and profitable corporations begin to pay their fair share of taxes.
Reforming Wall Street: It is time to break up the largest financial institutions in the country. Wall Street cannot continue to be an island unto itself, gambling trillions in risky financial instruments while expecting the public to bail it out. If a bank is too big to fail it is too big to exist. We need a banking system which is part of the job creating productive economy, not a handful of huge banks on Wall Street which engage in reckless and illegal activities.
Campaign Finance Reform: If we are serious about creating jobs, about climate change and the needs of our children and the elderly, we must be deadly serious about campaign finance reform and the need for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. I have said it before and I’ll say it again. I will not nominate any justice to the Supreme Court who has not made it clear that he or she will move to overturn that disastrous decision which is undermining our democracy. Long term, we need to go further and establish public funding of elections.
Reversing Climate Change: The United States must lead the world in reversing climate change. We can do that if we transform our energy system away from fossil fuels, toward energy efficiency and such sustainable energies such as wind, solar, geo-thermal and bio-mass. Millions of homes and buildings need to be weatherized, our transportation system needs to be energy efficient, and we need a tax on carbon to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuel.
Health Care for All: The United States remains the only major country on earth that does not guarantee health care for all as a right. Despite the modest gains of the Affordable Care Act, 35 million Americans continue to lack health insurance and many more are under-insured. Yet, we continue paying far more per capita for health care than any other nation. The United States must join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee health care to all as a right by moving toward a Medicare-for-All single-payer system.
Protecting Our Most Vulnerable: At a time when millions of Americans are struggling to keep their heads above water economically, at a time when senior poverty is increasing, at a time when millions of kids are living in dire poverty, my Republican colleagues, as part of their recently-passed budget, are trying to make a terrible situation even worse. If you can believe it, the Republican budget throws 27 million Americans off health insurance, makes drastic cuts in Medicare, throws millions of low-income Americans, including pregnant women off of nutrition programs, and makes it harder for working-class families to afford college or put their kids in the Head Start program. And then, to add insult to injury, they provide huge tax breaks for the very wealthiest families in this country while they raise taxes on working families.
Well, let me tell my Republican colleagues that I respectfully disagree with their approach. Instead of cutting Social Security, we’re going to expand Social Security benefits. Instead of cutting Head Start and child care, we are going to move to a universal pre-K system for all the children of this country. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt reminded us, a nation’s greatness is judged not by what it provides to the most well-off, but how it treats the people most in need. And that’s the kind of nation we must become.
College for All: And when we talk about education, let me be very clear. In a highly competitive global economy, we need the best educated workforce we can create. It is insane and counter-productive to the best interests of our country, that hundreds of thousands of bright young people cannot afford to go to college, and that millions of others leave school with a mountain of debt that burdens them for decades. That must end. That is why, as president, I will fight to make tuition in public colleges and universities free, as well as substantially lower interest rates on student loans.
War and Peace: As everybody knows, we live in a difficult and dangerous world, and there are people out there who want to do us harm. As president, I will defend this nation – but I will do it responsibly. As a member of Congress I voted against the war in Iraq, and that was the right vote. I am vigorously opposed to an endless war in the Middle East – a war which is unwise and unnecessary. We must be vigorous in combatting terrorism and defeating ISIS, but we should not have to bear that burden alone. We must be part of an international coalition, led by Muslim nations, that can not only defeat ISIS but begin the process of creating conditions for a lasting peace.
As some of you know, I was born in a far-away land called Brooklyn, New York. My father came to this country from Poland without a penny in his pocket and without much of an education. My mother graduated high school in New York City. My father worked for almost his entire life as a paint salesman and we were solidly lower-middle class. My parents, brother and I lived in a small rent-controlled apartment. My mother’s dream was to move out of that small apartment into a home of our own. She died young and her dream was never fulfilled. As a kid I learned, in many, many ways, what lack of money means to a family. That’s a lesson I have never forgotten.
I have seen the promise of America in my own life. My parents would have never dreamed that their son would be a U.S. Senator, let alone run for president. But for too many of our fellow Americans, the dream of progress and opportunity is being denied by the grind of an economy that funnels all the wealth to the top.
And to those who say we cannot restore the dream, I say just look where we are standing. This beautiful place was once an unsightly rail yard that served no public purpose and was an eyesore. As mayor, I worked with the people of Burlington to help turn this waterfront into the beautiful people-oriented public space it is today. We took the fight to the courts, to the legislature and to the people. And we won.
The lesson to be learned is that when people stand together, and are prepared to fight back, there is nothing that can’t be accomplished.
We can live in a country:
Where every person has health care as a right, not a privilege;
Where every parent can have quality and affordable childcare and where all of our qualified young people, regardless of income, can go to college;
Where every senior can live in dignity and security, and not be forced to choose between their medicine or their food;
Where every veteran who defends this nation gets the quality health care and benefits they have earned and receives the respect they deserve;
Where every person, no matter their race, their religion, their disability or their sexual orientation realizes the full promise of equality that is our birthright as Americans.
That is the nation we can build together, and I ask you to join me in this campaign to build a future that works for all of us, and not just the few on top.
Thank you, and on this beautiful day on the shore of Lake Champlain, I welcome you aboard.”