ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Bernie Sanders has denied that he hurt Hillary Clinton’s chances of being elected commander in chief, suggesting that he could have beat president-elect Donald Trump.
“I say to those critics, number one, that you can argue the exact reverse, that maybe I would have been elected President of the United States,” Sanders told a crowd of about 1,000 people while being interviewed Wednesday night by Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne at George Washington University.
He added, of his impact on the election, “My campaign brought millions of people into the political process, the overwhelming majority of whom ended up voting for Hillary Clinton.”
The Vermont senator said Democrats need to understand that Trump won because people are desperate and in “despair” — not because they harbor racist sentiments.
In channeling the thought process of those who voted for the Republican president-elect, Sanders said, “I am hurting… this guy says he is going to do something, that’s why I am giving him a shot.”
Sanders acknowledged that change is needed in the Democratic party. “This is the debate we are going to have to have in the Democratic party, that debate is: which side are you on?” he said. Can you go out and raise substantial sums of money from the wealthy and Wall Street and other special interest and then convince the American people that you are on the side of workers and the middle class?”
He continued, “Ordinary people have got to know that the Democratic Party has the guts to stand up to some very powerful people whose greed is destroying the middle class … if we can’t do that I don’t see much of a future for the Democratic Party.”
Sanders slammed Trump for selecting alt-right figure Steve Bannon as his senior counselor. “I call on Mr. Trump to rescind the appointment he made of Mr. Bannon. A president of the United States should not have a racist by his side … Unacceptable.”
He added, “The majority of people in this nation are not racist, not sexist, not homophobes. If we stand together, Trump will not be able to pass policies that are racist.”
Sanders also addressed how the electoral college, not the popular vote, determined who won the presidency — a hotly-contested issue during the days that followed the election. He spoke of the “absurdity that the entire campaign is played out in 15 states … California is ignored politically … I think we need to rethink the whole Electoral College … politicians should have to fight for every vote in California or Wyoming.”
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