Today on CNN’s State of the Union, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Democratic presidential candidate, joined anchor, Jake Tapper to discuss the New Hampshire Primary, SNL, and much more.
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”
Sander’s on Clinton’s speech transcripts: [TAPPER]: “Hillary Clinton, so far, has been asked by journalists to release transcripts from speeches, especially those to Goldman Sachs and others. Do you think she should and what do you think would be revealed in those transcripts?”
[SANDERS]: “No idea. I have no idea what she said and I think the decision as to whether or not to release it is her decision.”
[TAPPER]: “You don't have a positon on it at all?”
Sanders responds to “Bernie Bros”: “I have heard about it. It's disgusting. Look we don't want that crap. We can't you know, and we will do everything we can and I think we have tried. Look, you know that-that anybody who is supporting me that is doing the sexist things is-we don't want them. I don't want that. That is not what this campaign is about.”
Sanders responds to Larry David’s SNL impression of him: [TAPPER]: “Before this election season ever began did you ever look at Larry David and think "That guy could play me someday?”
[SANDERS]: “No, I admired him, I loved his television show, but no. I did not make the connection between Larry David and myself… Well he plays me a little bit better than I play me.”
Sanders on big money influence over lawmakers: “It ain't nuanced! Big money controls what goes on in Washington. Every American understands that. You have to be very naïve not to believe that the wealthiest and most powerful institutions in this country are contributing huge amounts of money- for what reason? For the heck of it? They just want to have fun and contribute that money? Of course they expect something. But that is different than saying, oh this candidate took that amount of money and voted that way. That is not what I'm saying. What I am saying is you have a corrupt campaign finance system. I will do everything I can to overturn this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court Decision, and in fact, I believe we should have public funding of elections.”
THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Senator Sanders, thanks so much for doing this. For sitting down.
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My pleasure.
TAPPER: So, Saturday Night Live. These impressions, whether Will Ferrell doing Bush or Tina Fey doing Palin, they can actually make an impression among the populous. Before this election season ever began did you ever look at Larry David and think "That guy could play me someday"?
SANDERS: No, I admired him, I loved his television show, but no. I did not make the connection between Larry David and myself.
TAPPER: But now it makes perfect sense I suppose?
SANDERS: Well he plays me a little bit better than I play me. So yeah, it does.
TAPPER: You're favored to win the New Hampshire Primary-
SANDERS: Don't make me nervous and don't jinx me here!
TAPPER: I'm sorry, I won't jinx it, I'm sorry.
SANDERS: We think it's gonna be a close election, we're working really hard.
TAPPER: So the Clinton campaign-campaign is kinda trying to downplay it a little bit. Secretary Clinton the other day pointed out that you're from neighboring Vermont and New Hampshire voters often vote for people from neighboring states, she says it's the neighborly thing to do. Your campaign says that was an insult- is it an insult?
SANDERS: Well in this sense it is. Look, I mean, obviously, Vermont and New Hampshire are separated by a river, we are close states, but you know what? Secretary Clinton won this state in 2008. Her husband ran several campaigns in this state. When we began this campaign here in New Hampshire, we were 30 points down in the polls and she was much better known in this state than I was. So simply to say, you know, if we win this thing it was because Bernie lives in Vermont, yeah I'm not, that's just not accurate.
TAPPER: There was an issue that came out in the last week about Secretary Clinton pushing back on your suggestions that maybe her vote, her votes have been compromised or she has been compromised.
SANDERS: Didn't say that.
TAPPER: How would you phrase it? How would you-
SANDERS: All I said is what is a fact, and if the Clinton campaign wants to contradict this fact I'd like to hear it. What I said is that she has a Super PAC and she recently in according to her reports received 15 million dollars from Wall Street. End of discussion. I never said anything more.
TAPPER: Now, her response has been among other things to say, nobody can point to a vote that I've ever changed because of this, and your campaign just put out a section from a book by Elizabeth Warren, a 2003 book, in which she noted, Elizabeth Warren, that Hillary Clinton as first lady had opposed a bankruptcy bill in 1998-99 and then as a Senator she voted for the bill- Elizabeth Warren wrote, I'm just quoting Elizabeth Warren, "the bill was essentially the same but Hillary Rodham Clinton was not," and Warren basically charges that because Hillary Clinton had taken the 140,000 dollars from banks, she did change her vote. Now, that's Warren saying it, (BS: Yeah, right) not you, but do you think that's an example of Clinton changing her vote?
SANDERS: No, this is what I think. I think you have a corrupt campaign finance system. I think you have the Koch brothers, billionaires, Exxon Mobile, you have Wall Street, you have pharmaceutical companies pouring huge amounts of money into our political process, undermining American democracy. And there is, it's not an accident that we end up paying the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, it's not an accident that there's not one Republican candidate who is prepared to stand up to the fossil fuel industry and help transform our energy system to deal with climate change. So I, I'm not going to go around saying well she got this, she did that, that is not my point. I do not have a Super PAC, Jake, okay. I don't want a Super PAC, I don't want their money. We are raising money the old fashioned way from middle class and working families, three and a half million individual contributions.
TAPPER: So if the suggestion, and let's not make it Clinton-specific because I know you're reluctant to do that, but if the suggestion is not that individuals, let's say Democrats, are changing their votes because of campaign contributions is the suggestion that as legislation is being drafted, people just won't go as far as they normally would because of the money?
SANDERS: Here's-here's what the suggestion is- you tell me, why is it that we pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs? Do you think it has something to do with the fact that the pharmaceutical industry has 1300 paid lobbyists and contributes a whole lot of campaign contributions?
TAPPER: Absolutely I do.
SANDERS: OK- so, and why is it that Wall Street today has three out of the four largest banks that are bigger today than they were when we bailed them out because they're too big to fail. Now from what you're trying to do here is to say the campaign contributions, you know, resulted in somebody voting this or that way- that is not what I'm saying-
TAPPER: No, that's what I'm asking-
SANDERS: I am saying-
TAPPER: I'm asking is it a more nuanced thing where people along the way as they're drafting legislation-
SANDERS: It ain't nuanced! Big money controls what goes on in Washington. Every American understands that. You have to be very naïve not to believe that the wealthiest and most powerful institutions in this country are contributing huge amounts of money- for what reason? For the heck of it? They just want to have fun and contribute that money? Of course they expect something. But that is different than saying, oh this candidate took that amount of money and voted that way. That is not what I'm saying. What I am saying is you have a corrupt campaign finance system. I will do everything I can to overturn this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court Decision, and in fact, I believe we should have public funding of elections.
TAPPER: Ok, but your campaign did send out this excerpt from Elizabeth Warren and she directly said that Clinton, in her view, changed her vote.
SANDERS: Well that's Elizabeth's point. I think the point that we wanted to know, and I suspect that the point that the campaign tried to make was to identify a particular vote that Secretary Clinton cast. And by the way they're sending out about ten things a day attacking me, I should just to set the record straight on that.
TAPPER: Hillary Clinton, so far, has been asked by journalists to release transcripts from speeches, especially those to Goldman Sachs and others. Do you think she should and what do you think would be revealed in those transcripts?
SANDERS: No idea. I have no idea what she said and I think the decision as to whether or not to release it is her decision.
TAPPER: You don't have a positon on it at all?
TAPPER: Let's turn to immigration which came up during the debate, Secretary Clinton brought up your vote against (BS: Right) Ted Kennedy's efforts in 2007, against his immigration bill, you spoke about that bill on the Lou Dobbs
SOT here: "If wages are going down, I don't know why we need millions of people coming into this country as guest workers who will work for lower wages than Americans and drive wages lower than they are right now."
TAPPER: It-it seems to be that you're suggesting in that 2007 quote that you saw immigration reform, and specifically the guest worker program in that bill, as something that was going to bring down wages for-for Americans. You are now a proponent of immigration reform. (BS: Always) You've always been, but are you opposed, are you still opposed to that guest worker program idea?
SANDERS: Well, if-if the answer is that if you study the issue you will find that major organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center describe guest worker programs as virtual starva- as virtual slavery, where people, you're a guest worker and you work for me, and I exploit you I pay you lower wages, treat you terribly, you stand up, you're out of this country. And that's why major Latino organizations and immigration reform groups like LULAC, also recommended a no vote and why other progressives in Congress voted against it as well. So I have very serious problems and worked hard to improve the guest worker program, but when you have major organizations describing the guest worker programs as virtual slavery, there's a good reason to vote against it.
TAPPER: The-the first two contests, Iowa and New Hampshire seemed to be the ones that were most friendly to you in the sense that many many progressives in Iowa, many many progressives and independents in New Hampshire. Very white states and Hillary Clinton, at least now, polls better with Latinos and African Americans. What is the path to victory for you, even if you have a resounding victory here on Tuesday night?
SANDERS: Well, we started this entire campaign way back when, nine months ago at three, four percent in the polls. We have come a very very long way. I think the message that we have, and the agenda that we have, in terms of economics and criminal justice will resound very significantly in the African American community and the Latino community. Just yesterday for example, Ben Jealous – Ben is the former leader of the NAACP, one of the more dynamic civil rights leaders in this country, came on board our campaign. As well as a number of other African American leaders. So I think when we get to South Carolina, when we get to Nevada, you're going to see more and more response from the African American community because we're talking about the issues relevant to them. Raising the minimum wage to fifteen bucks an hour, making public colleges and universities tuition free, dealing with the fact that we have more people in jail than any other country – primarily Latino and African American. I think we have the program that when people hear it they'll say 'yeah, you know what? Bernie's making sense'.
TAPPER: Do you think you can win South Carolina?
SANDERS: I think we are the underdog now. I think we have seen some real momentum there. I think we got a shot at it.
TAPPER: David Brock who is –
SANDERS: I know who David Brock is!
TAPPER: Often referred to as an attack dog for the Clintons, and he works for the Super PAC that directly coordinates with the campaign-
TAPPER: He said that after you released your Iowa ad, the Simon and Garfunkel ad, he said there weren't enough African Americans and Latino faces in it. And he said, based on this ad, black lives don't matter to Bernie Sanders. What did you make of that? What do you make of the role David Brock plays in the Clinton campaign?
SANDERS: Well, let's remember who David Brock is. He is a political attack dog and I happen to like Hillary Clinton but I am astounded by some of the people that she has hired including David Brock. David Brock, people will remember, used to be a real right wing guy who was attacking people like Anita Hill. This is an African American law professor who tried to do the right thing, and he admitted it! He said 'I lied about her'! This is the guy that Hillary Clinton is making the head of her Super PAC. I just don't understand, you know, there are-I just don't understand where the Clinton people are coming from hiring somebody like that. Every day you know they're attacking us in one way or the other.
TAPPER: Have you heard about this phenomenon, Bernie Bros, people who support you and sometimes attack, in very crude and sexist ways-
SANDERS: I have heard about it. It's disgusting. Look we don't want that crap. We can't you know, and we will do everything we can and I think we have tried. Look, you know that-that anybody who is supporting me that is doing the sexist things is-we don't want them. I don't want that. That is not what this campaign is about.
TAPPER: Lastly, let me just ask you a question, that I've now covered a few of these. Has this experience changed you in any way?
SANDERS: It really has. In the sense that I perceive more than ever how far removed the congress is, and you know I'm in the senate, and the establishment media is from the reality of people's lives. It's like two separate worlds. Alright, the establishment is here and they're talking about these issues and the people are over there, struggling to keep their heads above water economically. Look we did a meeting in Iowa, in a small town, woman gets up trying to make it on ten thousand dollars a year and she broke down. To talk about the pain, the difficulty, the embarrassment of trying to make it on ten thousand dollars a year, of course it moves you. And you see when you're out, I mean I have seen literally people Jake, I think-I think two instances in Iowa where people have terminal illnesses. I think both of them, they are at hospice, and literally they were saying 'we want to live long enough to come out to caucus for you' – now what do you think that does?
TAPPER: Thank you so much for your time. Good luck on Tuesday.
SANDERS: Thank you very much, Jake.