Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said Thursday that he will “finish this term as an Independent,” and called on Presidential-elect Donald Trump to cut ties with his newly-appointed top White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon.
“I was elected, last election, as an Independent and I will finish this term as an Independent,” Sanders said at annual Christian Science Monitor Breakfast.
However, the former Democratic presidential candidate began his remarks by urging Trump to rescind his appointment of Bannon.
“Let me begin by telling you that just yesterday, my office, from Vermont, a small state, received many, many hundreds of telephone calls urging President-elect Trump to withdraw his appointment of Mr. Bannon to be a major advisor to him,” Sanders said.
On Wednesday, Sanders was elevated to an obscure position among Senate Democrats’ leadership team.
When asked Thursday about how he will be used by the party going forward, Sanders said, “I don’t know.”
Sanders does know, however, “It is time for soul searching within the Democratic Party.”
Detailing the myriad political losses Democrats have suffered since 2008, Sanders said, “The evidence is pretty clear that when you lose the White House […] when you lose the Senate, when you lose the House, when you lose two thirds of state governor’s chairs in the country, when you’ve lost some 900 seats in legislatures around this country, in the last eight years, I think it is time for the Democratic Party to reassess what it stands for and where it wants to go.”
Moments later, Sanders seemed to take a veiled shot at the Democratic Party for favoring Hillary Clinton in the general election.
“The Democratic has to make a fundamental decision,” he said, “which side are you on?”
“It is not possible to be a candidate of cooperate America, not possible to be a candidate of the insurance companies or Wall Street, not take huge amounts of money from power special interests and then say ‘I’m going to champion the needs of the a declining middle class, I’m going to champion and fight for the needs of working class people or low income people.’ I don’t think you can do that. And I think you have to make a decision as to which side you’re on.”
Sanders echoed Thursday what he’d written in his new memoir, Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In.
The 75-year-old Senator criticized the “corporate media” for ignoring the issues facing middle class Americans.
Sanders did praise Trump, calling him a “very smart person” and urged the President-elect to “apologize” for the “terrible things that he has said on the campaign trail to minorities.”
“I would hope that he understands he has an extraordinary opportunity, an unbelievable opportunity to say, ‘I said … terrible things. I apologize. I am not going to be a president leading a racist or a sexist or a homophobic or Islamophobic administration. I want to focus on the real issues facing the American people,’ many of which he touched upon during his campaign,” Sanders said.