Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders — an avowed socialist — lauded President Obama’s 2016 State of the Union address on Tuesday night before aligning himself with the President, taking a shot at fellow candidate Hillary Clinton for “wealthy and powerful” special interest financial backers, and drawing attention to Clinton’s “income inequality” inexperience.
CNN’s Dana Bash began by asking 2016 democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders for his response to President Obama’s address.
“I thought it was an excellent speech,” the self-avowed socialist Sanders responded:
I think the President talked about the fact that we can utilize the changing world in a way that benefits all of us and that we should not be afraid of change. And one of the points that he made which moved me very much is that a time of massive income and wealth inequality when so many people believe their voices and their ideas no longer matter. What he said, get involved in the political process no matter what your point of view is. Don’t allow billionaires and large corporations to be able to make all of the decisions. I thought that was important.
Bash made reference to an ad released by fellow 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during the course of the President’s speech. The ad focuses on gun control. Clinton talks about being with President Obama on gun control: “I’m with him.”
Sanders responded moving the conversation away from gun control:
Let me just say this, first of all, I stand with the President on gun issues. The idea of expanding instant background checks, the idea of making sure that people who have criminal backgrounds or are mentally unstable should not have guns, something I’ve believed my whole life.
Sanders then moved to discuss an upcoming ad from his campaign on expanding Social Security and “lifting the cap on taxable income.”
Bash pressed back to the issue of gun control, citing a 2005 bill that Sanders voted to approve–a bill that Bash interpreted as shielding “gun manufacturers from liability.”
Sanders chimed in, saying that over the past few months, he has said he would consider taking another look at that bill. While not being specific, he said that there are things that are good and things that are bad included in that bill.
Bash referenced Monday’s “Black and Brown Forum” at which Bash recalled Sanders saying the 2005 bill “wasn’t a mistake.”
Sanders responded by moving to criticize “a corrupt campaign finance system where candidates like Secretary Clinton have PACs that are bringing in huge amounts of money from very wealthy and powerful special interests.” He added that “we have got to demand that the wealthiest people in this country start paying their fair share of taxes.”
Breitbart News reported on 60 ultra-wealthy Americans who contributed to both Clinton and Republican establishment presidential candidate Jeb! Bush.
Bash would not leave the gun control issue, trying to get Sanders to clarify his position on gun control legislation.
Secretary Clinton obviously feels herself in trouble. We started out this campaign at two percent in the polls. Some polls now have us winning in Iowa and New Hampshire. So I think, ya know, it’s fine that she wants to pick on this issue. As I said several months ago, we are going to work on changing that legislation.
Bash asked Sanders about Chelsea Clinton’s shot at Sanders for his plan for universal health care. Clinton suggested that Sanders’ plan would “empower Republican governors to take away Medicaid, to take away health insurance for low income and middle income working Americans.”
Sanders accused the younger Clinton of not reading the plan. He went on to claim that his national universal healthcare program would “save middle class families thousands of dollars.”
Sanders stressed that the federal government would impose universal health care whether or not a particular state agrees to go along with the program. “We want states to play a role, but if states don’t go forward, in the legislation that we introduce, then the federal government will provide the plan.”
Bash commented on the high cost of Sanders’ universal healthcare plan, mentioning a 15 trillion dollar price tag, to which Sanders jumped in again, claiming that his plan would “save thousands of dollars for every middle class family in this country.”
Bash moved on to ask Sanders about the upcoming release of his tax plan, slated to come before the Iowa caucuses. Sanders responded, “What our tax plan will be is to say loudly and clearly that a time of massive income and wealth inequality the wealthiest people and the largest corporations will start paying their fair share of taxes.”
Bash then turned to a previous CNN interview with Vice President Joe Biden on income inequality. Biden pushed the idea that it is “relatively new for Hillary to talk about that. Hillary’s focus has been other things up to now and that’s been Bernie’s — no one questions Bernie’s authenticity on those issues.”
Bernie joined in perpetuating the idea that Clinton was “new” to income inequality:
Joe Biden and I both share an understanding that there’s something fundamentally wrong when 20 wealthiest people in this country own more wealth than the bottom 50 percent. Joe and I have been working on this issue for many, many years. I think it is fair to say that Hillary Clinton is new to this issue.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana.