CONCORD — Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., said “electability” has become a more dominant theme in the 2020 primary due to the unpopularity of President Trump.
During an interview Tuesday, the Independent senator said the Democratic nominee must possess a bold agenda that takes on corporate America and the power elites to beat a sitting President, even this one.
“What I think is, to beat Trump, who is not going to be an easy opponent, you are going to have to have a very large turnout. The only way you do that is by speaking about the real issues that impact working people and young people’s lives,” Sanders said.
Sanders said his policies of Medicare for all, aggressive action to reverse climate change, free public and community college tuition, breaking up monopolies and raising the minimum wage will mobilize the young and other politically disenfranchised Americans to come out and vote Trump out of office.
“If you are not prepared, ultimately, to take on the powerful special interests that have so much economic and political power, I don’t think you can generate a large turnout,” said Sanders, who on Tuesday completed a three-day visit the state.
At nearly ever stop, Sanders predicted that he would repeat the New Hampshire primary victory he had in 2016 against heavy establishment favorite and eventual nominee Hillary Clinton.
“We take nothing for granted. I am confident that with your help we are going to pull off a major victory here,” Sanders told an overflow crowd Sunday at Peterborough Town Hall.
“Once we win the Democratic nomination we are going to have the privilege and the joy of defeating the most dangerous president in the history of this country.”
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the founders of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, served as the warm-up act for Sanders, who mixed the town hall format with a free ice cream social at several stops.
During Tuesday’s interview, Sanders said this campaign is different from most presidential primaries in which the voter perception of a candidate’s likability is a major factor in attracting supporters.
In this race it’s almost all about who can turn Trump into a one-term president, he said.
“Look, I think that in New Hampshire and, in fact, many parts of this country, people are deeply angry at this President, ashamed of this President,” Sanders said.
“The American people do not want someone who is a racist, who is sexist, who is a homophobe, who is a xenophobe and a religious bigot as President. People are saying we have to get rid of this guy. He has to be beaten.”
This is why, in contrast to his 2016 campaign message about policy and not strategy, Sanders continues to mention the early polls that have him projected to beat Trump.
“For a year there hasn’t been one showing him beating me,” Sanders said. “That’s significant.”
Nina McLaughlin, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said Sanders’ politics are too radical for the American people to endorse.
“Socialism wasn’t popular under Mao, it wasn’t popular under Stalin, and it won’t be popular under Bernie Sanders,” McLaughlin said in a statement.
“Instead of pandering for ‘likes’ with wealthy rappers, Bernie should look to President Trump’s popular record of success: a booming economy, historically low unemployment, and Americans saving thousands of dollars a year in taxes.”
Last week Sanders vowed that, if elected, he would oppose major media mergers that would lead to layoffs and the consolidation of media ownership.
“Donald Trump has done what no other president has done and that is to actually call the media of this country an enemy of the people. That is disgusting and absolutely outrageous,” Sanders said.
“On the other hand, what does concern me is we are seeing a growing concentration of ownership in the media with a small number of conglomerates that control what most Americans see, hear and read. I want a number of diverse voices out here.
“I think this is a serious problem,” Sanders said.