October 26th, 2015
12:28 AM ET

Sen. Sanders on Clinton's effort to "rewrite history" on DOMA: "everybody at the time knew this was simply homophobic legislation"

SOTU

Today on CNN’s State of the Union, Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-VT), joined anchor, Jake Tapper.

MANDATORY CREDIT: CNN’s “State of the Union”

TEXT HIGHLIGHTS
Bernie Sanders on Clinton’s effort to ‘rewrite history’ on DOMA:   “Well, I think the history of that is pretty clear.  The Republicans came into Congress.  Many of them, I'm sorry to have to say, were homophobic.  They saw it as a good political issue.  And what they were trying to do was make it impossible for gay couples to be married, to have - get benefits from the federal government, to have marriage in one state be recognized in another state I think everybody at the time knew this was simply homophobic legislation.  And I have to tell you something, Jake.  The vote that I cast, we were way - the vote on that was just overwhelmingly for DOMA because I think a lot of members of Congress were nervous about going home.  And it was not an easy vote.  I voted against DOMA because I think - I thought then and I think now that people have the right to love those folks that they want to love and get married regardless of their sexual orientation.  It was not an easy vote.  But that was the issue.”

Sander’s remarks on Clinton’s implication that he is being sexist with “stop shouting” on guns rhetoric: “Well, you know, all that I can say is I am very proud of my record on women's issues.  I certainly do not have a problem with women speaking out.  And I think what the secretary is doing there is taking words and misapplying them.  What I was saying is if we are going make some progress on dealing with these horrific massacres that we're seeing, is that people have got to stop all over this country talking to each other.  It's not Hillary Clinton.  You have some people who are shouting at other people all across this country.  You know that.  This nation is divided on this issue. “

Sander’s reacts to criticism from CEO of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America: "Well, let me say this.  I am very proud that when I was chairman of the Senate Veterans' Committee, I received the highest awards from the American Legion and the highest award from the Veterans Foreign Wars, VFW.  And I received those awards because they knew that I was doing everything that I could to protect veterans' rights, do everything I could to make sure that every veteran in this country got the health care and the benefits that they needed in a timely matter."

FULL TRANSCRIPT
THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR:  If you're a political junky in Iowa, this was a weekend not to be missed.  There was a big Democratic dinner featuring all the Democratic candidates still running for president, a blowout concert from Katy Perry, who is supporting Hillary Clinton, and a drop-by from an old friend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I'm tired of the stranglehold that women have had on the job of presidential spouse.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER:  A question now is whether Bernie Sanders can keep his momentum going as Hillary Clinton builds some of her own.

Senator Sanders joins us now live from Des Moines.

Senator, thank you so much for being here.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  My pleasure, Jake.

TAPPER:  So, Senator Sanders, you went on offense at last night Iowa's Jefferson Jackson Dinner, sharply contrasting your record with that of Secretary Clinton's.

She, of course, is coming off a - a stretch that many pundits consider to be strong, between her debate, the Benghazi hearing, Vice President Biden not running for president.

Going forward, is - are we in a new phase of the campaign?  Are you going to be drawing contrasts on issues more aggressively?

SANDERS:  Well, I don't know it's a new phase.  Look, I've known Hillary Clinton for 25 years.  I have a lot of respect for her.  She's a friend.  We have differences of opinion and  I think the American people, people participating in the Democratic primary process, need to know the differences.

I have consistently been a critic of what is going on on Wall Street, the greed, the recklessness, the illegal behavior.  I help lead the effort to - against the deregulation of Wall Street.  I believe that we should bring back Glass-Stegall legislation so that you do not have the absurd situation of commercial banks and investment banks and large insurance companies being together.  You do not have six financial institutions having assets equivalent to 60 percent of the GDP.  With all the economic and political power that these banks have, I think you have to break them up.  That has always - that has been my view for a very, very long time.  That is not Hillary Clinton's view.

I believe that NAFTA and CAFTA and permanent normal trade relations, trade agreements, have been a disaster for American workers, that over the last 14 or 15 years we've lots tens of thousands of factories, millions of decent paying job.  From the very beginning, I understood tat the Transpacific Partnership was a bad trade agreement.  I didn't have to do a lot of thinking about it.  Keystone Pipeline, the same thing.  War on Iraq, the same thing.

So I have been consistent over the years and I think it's important for the people to know that.

TAPPER:  And one of the issues you drew a contrast with on Hillary Clinton last night had to do with the Defense of Marriage Act, which Bill Clinton signed into law.  I want you to take a listen to what Clinton - Hillary Clinton - had to say on Friday about her husband signing that law.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  DOMA was a line that was drawn that was to prevent going further.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  It was a defensive action?

CLINTON:  It was a defensive action.  The culture rapidly changed so that now what was totally anathema to political forces, they had ceded.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER:  Senator Sanders, you voted against the Defense of Marriage Act.  Hillary Clinton is calling it a defensive action.  Last night, you said some are trying to rewrite history

SANDERS:  Well, I think the history of that is pretty clear.  The Republicans came into Congress.  Many of them, I'm sorry to have to say, were homophobic.  They saw it as a good political issue.  And what they were trying to do was make it impossible for gay couples to be married, to have - get benefits from the federal government, to have marriage in one state be recognized in another state.

I think everybody at the time knew this was simply homophobic legislation.  And I have to tell you something, Jake.  The vote that I cast, we were way - the vote on that was just overwhelmingly for DOMA because I think a lot of members of Congress were nervous about going home.  And it was not an easy vote.  I voted against DOMA because I think - I thought then and I think now that people have the right to love those folks that they want to love and get married regardless of their sexual orientation.  It was not an easy vote.  But that was the issue.

TAPPER:  Right.

SANDERS:  And I think everybody at the time knew what was going on.

TAPPER:  You're calling that legislation homophobic.  Hillary Clinton is out there saying that Bill Clinton signed into law this legislation you called homophobic.  She said it was done as a way of being defensive to protect gay rights.

SANDERS:  I would not agree with that assertion.  I think - look, and in fact, that legislation was initiated not by Bill Clinton - he signed it - it was initiated by Republicans in the House.  He ended up signing it.  Not vetoing it.  But, to my mind, I think the evidence is very, very clear that that legislation was anti-gay legislation.  It was playing off fears of a lot of Americans.

Now the good news, as Hillary Clinton just indicated, the culture has changed radically.  We have become a far less discriminatory society.  Gay rights and gay marriage is now legal in 50 states in this country.  We should be very, very proud of it.  We have come a long, long way since that vote in 1996.

TAPPER:  Senator Sanders, I appreciate the tone that you bring to the presidential race, but I have to say your rival Secretary Clinton is not bringing the same tone.  She's basically calling you a sexist.  I want you to take a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  I’ve been told to stop, and I quote, "shouting about gun violence."  Well, first of all, I'm not shouting.  It's just when women talk some people think we're shouting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER:  You’re the one she’s quoting, Senator Sanders.  She is suggesting in public that you have a problem with women speaking out.

SANDERS:  Well, you know, all that I can say is I am very proud of my record on women's issues.  I certainly do not have a problem with women speaking out.  And I think what the secretary is doing there is taking words and misapplying them.

What I was saying is if we are going make some progress on dealing with these horrific massacres that we're seeing, is that people have got to stop all over this country talking to each other.  It's not Hillary Clinton.  You have some people who are shouting at other people all across this country.  You know that.  This nation is divided on this issue.

What I have said is I think there is a consensus out there that talks about banning assault weapons, that talks about expanding background checks, that talks about doing away with the gun show loophole, doing - making sure that the strawman situation becomes federal law and we make sure that guns do not get into the hands of people who should not have them.  That we deal with the mental health crisis.

What I was talking about, clearly, across this country you’ve got people shouting at each other.

TAPPER:  Right.  What she's suggesting you're saying -

SANDERS:  Well, she is -

TAPPER:  - that she’s shouting and that you, when you when you hear a woman talking, you think they're shouting.

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS:  Well, what can I say?  That's just not the case.  That's wrong.

TAPPER:  I want to turn another issue that came up at the Democratic debate.  You’re the chairman of - you were the chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee.  Following the debate you were criticized by Paul Reickhoff, he’s the founder and CEO of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.  He told CNN, quote, "For far too long Senator Sanders was apologizing for the VA.  He was refusing to acknowledge the severity of the crisis.  He was positioning it as a smaller issue than it was while veterans were dying waiting for care."

I wanted to give you an opportunity to respond.

SANDERS:  Well, let me say this.  I am very proud that when I was chairman of the Senate Veterans' Committee, I received the highest awards from the American Legion and the highest award from the Veterans Foreign Wars, VFW.  And I received those awards because they knew that I was doing everything that I could to protect veterans' rights, do everything I could to make sure that every veteran in this country got the health care and the benefits that they needed in a timely matter.

You know, the politics in the Veterans’ Committee, in the veterans world as well.  And I’m not saying that every veterans organization is 100 percent supportive, but I worked very closely with all of major the veterans organizations, not only the American Legion, the VFW, Disabled American Veterans, Vietnam Vets, all of the veterans organization.  And what we ended up doing in a bipartisan manner, I worked with people like John McCain in the Senate, Jeff Miller over in the House of Republicans, to put together the most comprehensive veterans' health care legislation in the modern history of this country, which in fact is making - improving health care for our veterans so that we ensure that get it -

TAPPER:  Thank you, Senator Sanders.

SANDERS:  - in a timely manner.

TAPPER:  Thank you so much, Senator Sanders.  We appreciate it.  We hope to see you out there on the campaign trail.

SANDERS:  OK, thank you very much, Jake.

###END INTERVIEW###

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