Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders took a swipe at capitalism and discounted GOP frontrunner Donald Trump and his supporters Friday, telling Late Show host Stephen Colbert Trump’s message appeals to the instincts of racism and xenophobia.
For his first appearance on late night TV, the 74-year-old Vermont socialist delivered Colbert a “Feel the Bern” mug, as the two sat down to discuss Sanders’ candidacy. Colbert then quizzed him about his success with Democrats, before moving on to comparisons to him being a “Democratic Trump.”
“You’re the first self-described socialist to be elected to the United States Senate” said Colbert, asking why Sanders refuses to accept the term “socialist” as an insult. “Did you expect this to happen–because you have shocked the political class in the United States?”
Going after the wealthy, Sanders responded, “Almost all of the income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent, and people do not feel good about that.”
Citing a need for “paid vacation and sick time,” as well as other social entitlements, the candidate said his supporters are fed up with the current system.
Playing an advocate for capitalism, Colbert then asked, “We’re the richest nation in the world because we are a capitalist nation. If we became a socialist nation, we would be just like some Scandinavian country. We’d be eating pickled herring, and we’d have a high suicide rate. Why do you want that for the United States?”
Sanders said, “We want a society which encourages entrepreneurship and innovation … not a society in which the very rich get much richer while virtually everybody else gets poorer.”
When asked if he would seek an 80% tax rate as president, Sanders dodged the question and argued there is a “moral outrage” that the “top one-tenth of one percent today owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent, and that 58 percent of all new income is going to the top one percent.”
“That is the outrage, and that has got to change,” said Sanders.
On being compared to Donald Trump, Sanders said, “I think that what Trump is doing is appealing to the baser instincts among us: xenophobia and, frankly, racism. He’s describing an entire group of people, in this case Mexicans, as rapists or as criminals.”
That’s the same old thing that’s gone on in this country for a very long time. You target some group of people, and you go after them. You take people’s anger, and you turn it against them—you win votes on it. I think that is disgraceful and not something we should be doing in 2015.
Sanders also said he feels he can win a general election because of his support with young people.
The Vermont Senator was endorsed earlier Friday by a number of actors, directors, and musicians, including Will Ferrell, Jeremy Piven, John C. Reilly, Danny DeVito, and Sarah Silverman.