Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), said his criticisms of rival Hillary Clinton’s ties to Wall Street are not a smear as Clinton has charged but a “fact.”
Partial transcript as follows:
DICKERSON: You have talked a lot about the donations Hillary Clinton receives from the financial service sector. In the most recent debate, she called that an artful smear. What is your response to that?
SANDERS: It’s a fact. When in the last reporting period her super PAC received $25 million and $15 million came from Wall Street, what is the smear? That is the fact.
DICKERSON: Well, she says you can’t point to a single vote that she changed or an opinion that she changed. Can you?
SANDERS: Yes, I know. Nobody who takes — or has a super PAC, nobody who gets money, whether it’s Republican or Democrat, from the pharmaceutical industry, from the fossil fuel industry, from Wall Street, there’s never been a politician in history who said, that money influences me. It’s just people are throwing millions ever dollars into the campaign, but there’s no reason why they’re throwing that money into the campaign. I think, you know, the American people know better. So, I have never impugned a Secretary Clinton’s integrity. I like Secretary Clinton. But we have a corrupt campaign finance system.
I am proud I do not have a super PAC. We have raised 3.5 million individual contributions averaging $27 apiece.
DICKERSON: Barack Obama received a lot of money from these same groups. Is he in the same fix as Hillary Clinton?
SANDERS: It is a corrupt — it is a corrupt campaign finance system. And let me tell you something, John. At the very top of my list of goals that I want to accomplish as president of the United States is overturning this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision.
Democracy does not mean that billionaires should be able to buy elections.
DICKERSON: CNN has a piece this week that the Clinton campaign is passing around that talks about the fund-raising did you for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and that you, in raising money and helping them to raise money from some of these people in the financial world, are basically contributing to the same system that you are now beating up.
SANDERS: Is that what the Clinton people are talking about?
DICKERSON: Well, CNN did the piece.
SANDERS: Yes, well, CNN is wrong.
DICKERSON: You never participated in any of these fund-raisers?
SANDERS: I went to events. But did I go and ask financial people for money? Absolutely not. What I did do, because I absolutely did not want to see the Republicans gain control of the United States Senate, I wrote letters to a whole lot of people, letters that went out to I’m guessing millions of people through Democratic Senate Committee that raised millions of dollars for the Democratic Senate Committee. On one hand, John, I’m criticized because I’m not a strong enough Democrat, and then I’m criticized because I’m raising money for the Democratic Senate Committee in order to make sure that they retain — regain control of the Senate. But, no, I do not go and raise money for the financial institutions.
DICKERSON: But, Senator, when you write letters for the senatorial campaigns, why do you think they’re giving money, if not for the expectation that, by your thinking, by your reasoning, that they might have some influence over you?
SANDERS: John, the people I am writing to are contributing $25, $30, $40. And if anybody doesn’t know the difference between a contribution of $30 or $40 or a super PAC which raises millions of dollars from Wall Street, then, frankly, we don’t know what is going on in politics today. My letter that I sent out to millions of people was designed to bring in low donations, low-dollar donations, very, very different from appealing to Wall Street or big money interests.
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