January 31st, 2016
12:55 PM ET

Sanders on his performance in Iowa: "I think you're going to look at one of the biggest political upsets in the modern history of our country."

SOTU

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

 

For more information, see http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/. Also, text highlights and a transcript of the discussion are below.

 

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

 

Contacts: Lauren Pratapas — Lauren.Pratapas@turner.com; 202.465.6666; Zachary Lilly – Zachary.Lilly@turner.com

 

CNN Politics Story: Sanders: Clinton emails 'very serious issue'

 

 

TEXT HIGHLIGHTS

 

Sanders on how he can pull out a win in Iowa Caucus: “Well, Jake, you know, when we started this campaign here in Iowa, we were 50 or 60 points behind Secretary Clinton. We have come a long, long way.  And the reason for that is, we have 15,000 volunteers who today are going to be knocking on doors.  They're going to be making telephone calls.  They're going to be urging people in very large numbers to come out and vote… So, I'm feeling good, Jake.  Our issues are out there.  People are really enthusiastic.  And if people come out to vote, I think you're going to look at one of the biggest political upsets in the modern history of our country.”

 

Sanders commits to a Flint debate: [TAPPER]: “Will you debate in Flint, Michigan?  Is that OK with you?”

[SANDERS]: “Sure.  I don't have a problem.  But I - as I understand it, this is what happened.  You know, the DNC, without my input, without our campaign's input, announced six - six debates.  And then, suddenly, Secretary Clinton, because she may not be doing so well in New Hampshire, she wanted another debate. And I said, fine, you want another debate, that's great, but let's do at least three other debates in California.  Let's do one in New York.  Let's do one in Michigan.  But, obviously, if you do one in Michigan, you want to do it before their primary, not after their primary.”

 

Sanders on his campaign’s foreign policy advisers: [SANDERS]: “Look, we have been talking in the last month to, you know, many, many, many people who are very knowledgeable about national security issues and foreign policy issues.”

[TAPPER]:  I know that you assert that you have the right judgment, but I'm just wondering if you could name a former military official who...”

[SANDERS]: “There are too many…Larry Korb is one.”

 

Sanders clarifies his position on Clinton’s email scandal: [TAPPER]: “Should voters take from those comments that you think nothing was done was wrong when it comes to how Secretary Clinton...”

[SANDERS]: “No.  No, that is not, I think, a fair assessment. I think this is a very serious issue.  I think there is a legal process right now taking place.  And what I have said - and - you know, and I get criticized.  You know, Bernie, why don't you attack Hillary Clinton? There is a legal process taking place.  I do not want to politicize that issue.  It is not my style.  And what I am focusing on, Jake, are the issues impacting the middle class of this country.”


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: We have just one day until the Iowa caucuses, when the first votes in this wild, wacky election season will finally be cast.

 

And on both sides of the aisle, it is very tight and very tense, as the candidates head into their final 24 hours on the campaign trail.  The very latest numbers revealed overnight by the gold standard in Iowa polling, "The Des Moines Register," showing Donald Trump on top, leading his closest competitor, Ted Cruz, 28 percent to 23 percent, Marco Rubio in third place, surging with 15 percent.

 

On the Democratic side, it is within the margin of error, with Hillary Clinton leading Bernie Sanders by just three points, 45 percent to 42 percent, really anyone's race there, real nail-biters on both sides.

 

And you can feel the excitement here in Iowa.  It is that energy that Senator Bernie Sanders is counting on to win.

 

And he joins me now live from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

 

Senator Sanders, thanks so much for joining us.  Appreciate it.

 

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

 

TAPPER:  So, the gold standard in Iowa polling, the "Des Moines Register"/Bloomberg poll, came out last night, shows a very close race, with Clinton ahead 45 percent to 42 percent.

 

What do you need to do to win?  How do you expand turnout and win the Iowa caucuses?

 

SANDERS:  Well, Jake, you know, when we started this campaign here in Iowa, we were 50 or 60 points behind Secretary Clinton.

 

We have come a long, long way.  And the reason for that is, we have 15,000 volunteers who today are going to be knocking on doors.  They're going to be making telephone calls.  They're going to be urging people in very large numbers to come out and vote.

 

What I sense is, there are a lot of people who will participate in the caucus process on Monday night who previously were not involved in politics.  That's working-class people.  That's young people who now want to - to direct the future of this country.  They don't want to sit back.

 

And they want to take on a rigged economy, a corrupt campaign, finance system, and they want to stand up and be counted and have Iowa be the first state in the country to lead us in a very, very different direction.

 

So, I think, if the turnout is high, Jake, I think we have got a real shot to win this.

 

TAPPER:  I'm sure you have seen the story in BuzzFeed, the Clinton campaign training caucus leaders to throw support to Martin O'Malley, who's in far, far third place, in some cases, in a way to manipulate the process, completely, according to the rules, but also some people might find it odd.

 

What do you think about that tactic?

 

SANDERS:  You know, I can't keep up with what the Clinton campaign does, to be honest with you.

 

What I do get disturbed is, I'm seeing ads on television suggesting, for example, that I am attacking Planned Parenthood, when I have a 100 percent lifetime pro-Planned Parenthood voting record.  I think they're one of the great organizations in America.

 

So, I don't know what the Clinton campaign is doing.  All I know is that we are bringing out large numbers of people.  We're creating a lot of excitement and energy on the part of people who really are tired of establishment politics and establishment economics, tired of seeing almost all new income and wealth going to the top 1 percent, want us to address climate change, want us to address a broken criminal justice system.

 

So, I'm feeling good, Jake.  Our issues are out there.  People are really enthusiastic.  And if people come out to vote, I think you're going to look at one of the biggest political upsets in the modern history of our country.

 

TAPPER:  The viewership for the Democratic debates has been very, very strong.  You and Hillary Clinton have agreed to do more debates.  The details have not been agreed to.  You want to do one in Brooklyn.  She's challenged you to debate in Flint, Michigan.

 

Will you debate in Flint, Michigan?  Is that OK with you?

 

SANDERS:  Sure.  I don't have a problem.

 

But I - as I understand it, this is what happened.  You know, the DNC, without my input, without our campaign's input, announced six - six debates.  And then, suddenly, Secretary Clinton, because she may not be doing so well in New Hampshire, she wanted another debate.

 

And I said, fine, you want another debate, that's great, but let's do at least three other debates in California.  Let's do one in New York.  Let's do one in Michigan.  But, obviously, if you do one in Michigan, you want to do it before their primary, not after their primary.

 

God knows, what's going on in Flint, Michigan, is an outrage beyond belief, a public health crisis.  I don't have a problem with being in Flint, Michigan.  Let's do it before their primary.  So, let's work out the details.

 

I have always wanted more debates.  I think our message is resonating with the middle class and working families of this country.  So, to have those debates is something that I look forward to.

 

TAPPER:  We learned recently that you now have protection from the U.S. Secret Service.  Were you getting threats, or is this just part of rising in the polls and becoming a credible, legitimate candidate?

 

SANDERS:  Well, I think, you know, security issues is probably something we should not talk about.

 

TAPPER:  Fair enough.

 

"The Washington Post" wrote a scathing editorial about you this week.  It said - quote - "Sanders is not a brave truth-teller."  They cast you as just another politician pandering to liberal voters.

 

A Clinton ally says that her campaign is handing out copies of this editorial.  I want to give you a chance to respond.

 

SANDERS:  Look, I am not greatly beloved by the economic establishment, by Wall Street, by the big-money interests, or by, you know, the major media of this country, including "The Washington Post."

 

I am being attacked because I am too ambitious, because I say, among other things, that maybe we should have a tax on Wall Street speculation, whose greed and recklessness helped destroy our economy and the lives of many, many people, and that maybe we should use that money to make public colleges and universities tuition-free, and maybe we should do away with these outrageous corporate loopholes that allow billion-dollar corporations to stash their money in the Cayman Islands, not pay a nickel in taxes.

 

Maybe we should do that and use that revenue to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and create 13 million jobs.  Maybe we should expand Social Security, so that millions of seniors in this country don't have to live on $11,000, $12,000 a year, by lifting the cap and asking millionaires to contribute their fair share.

 

Yes, "The Washington Post" doesn't like it.  They don't like my idea of a Medicare-for-all single-payer program, which would enable the United States to join the rest of the industrialized world, guarantee health care to all people, and, by the way, Jake, by the way, save middle-class families thousands and thousands of dollars a year on their health care costs.

 

We are taking on the establishment.  "Washington Post" is the establishment.  Doesn't surprise me they don't like my ideas.

 

TAPPER:  Let's turn to national security.

 

There have been some questions about who is advising you on military and foreign policy issues.  Who are the former generals or former senior defense officials upon whose counsel you rely?

 

SANDERS:  Look, we have been talking in the last month to, you know, many, many, many people who are very knowledgeable about national security issues and foreign policy issues.

 

And I am confident that we have the judgment and the experience to do what has to be done for the American people.  And I would just remind the viewers, Jake, that, on the most important foreign policy issue in our lifetimes, or at least in the last 20, 30 years...

 

TAPPER:  Right.

 

SANDERS:  ... I voted against the war in Iraq, and Hillary Clinton voted for it.

 

I am confident that, in terms of dealing with the Middle East crisis, the need to put together a coalition to prevent our young men and women in the military from getting involved in perpetual warfare, I am absolutely confident that I can handle that issue.

 

TAPPER:  I know that you assert that you have the right judgment, but I'm just wondering if you could name a former military official who...

 

SANDERS:  There are too many.

 

TAPPER:  Too many?

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

SANDERS:  Larry Korb is one.

 

Larry Korb has worked - who, actually, I think, worked in the Reagan administration, is somebody we have consulted with.

 

TAPPER:  All right.  Fair enough.

 

At CNN's October debate, you famously told Hillary Clinton that - I will spare you my Bernie Sanders impression, but you said - quote - "The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails."

 

Should voters take from those comments that you think nothing was done was wrong when it comes to how Secretary Clinton...

 

SANDERS:  No.

 

TAPPER:  ... handled classified information?

 

SANDERS:  No.

 

TAPPER:  Or is that not a fair...

 

SANDERS:  No.

 

TAPPER:  OK.

 

SANDERS:  No.  No, that is not, I think, a fair assessment.

 

I think this is a very serious issue.  I think there is a legal process right now taking place.  And what I have said - and - you know, and I get criticized.  You know, Bernie, why don't you attack Hillary Clinton?

 

There is a legal process taking place.  I do not want to politicize that issue.  It is not my style.  And what I am focusing on, Jake, are the issues impacting the middle class of this country.

 

You know, and, Jake, I go around the state of Iowa.  I can't go to a meeting where kids do not tell me - not kids, middle-class, middle-aged people, how much deeply - how much in debt they are in terms of student debt or people who can't afford health care.

 

Those are the issues that we're going to focus on.  There's a legal process under way with regard to the e-mail situation.  It will play out.  I'm not going to politicize it.

 

TAPPER:  Fair enough.

 

Senator Bernie Sanders, congratulations on what you have been able to build here in Iowa.  We will see you on the campaign trail.

 

SANDERS:  Thank you very much, Jake.

 

 

###END INTERVIEW###

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