Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said the Democratic Party establishment is rallying against him in favor of fellow Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, and he pointed to the events of last week as evidence.
During an appearance Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Sanders said proof of the establishment’s influence came on Super Tuesday and in the decisions of Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg to exit the race just before that day’s contests.
“Well, one of the things that I was kind of not surprised by is the power of establishment to force Amy Klobuchar, who had worked so hard, Pete Buttigieg, who, you know, really worked extremely hard as well, out of the race,” Sanders told host George Stephanopoulos.
“What was very clear from the media narrative and what the establishment wanted was to make sure that people coalesced around Biden and tried to defeat me. So that’s not surprising,” the senator said.
Sanders framed the action as a response to his maverick candidacy.
“We are taking on, George, as I think everybody knows, the establishment. We’re taking on the corporate establishment. We’re taking on the political establishment. And what you are seeing now just in the last few weeks is Wall Street, the health care industry, the billionaire class putting a lot of money into Joe’s campaign,” he said.
Sanders said he expects opposition from party leaders and political insiders.
“Look, we have the support of virtually every major grassroots organization representing millions of workers, black and brown and white. We have the support of a number of major unions in this country. This is no secret, George, you know politics, we’re not going to get the support of most elected leaders. Not most governors, not most senators,” he said.
“But we are winning the support of grassroots America because we have an agenda that speaks to working people. Our agenda says that health care is a human right,” Sanders said. “Our agenda is very different and our record is very different from Joe Biden’s.”
The senator echoed President Donald Trump’s position that Biden is part of a legacy of failed trade deals.
“Here in Michigan right now, the trade agreements like NAFTA and PNTR with China were disastrous,” he said. “Cost 160,000 jobs here in Michigan because American workers were forced to compete against desperate people in Mexico and China. Cost over 4 million jobs nationally. I led the effort against those disastrous trade agreements, worked with the unions. Joe voted for those trade agreements.”
Sanders also voiced his stalwart support for abortion and LGBT rights as a reason to elect him.
“I have 100 percent pro-choice voting record. I was there when the going was tough. Joe was not,” he said.
“In terms of gay rights — in terms of, you know, as I mentioned the defense — so-called Defense of Marriage Act, it was not an easy vote, as you will recall. And when I cast and said no, you know, marriage is not just between a man and a woman. People have the right to marry whoever they want regardless of their gender, that was a tough vote,” the senator said.
Sanders dismissed media characterizations of the Michigan primary on Tuesday as a make-or-break day for his campaign.
“I’ve been asked this, make or break — as you well know, George, you know a little bit about politics, make or break since Iowa, since New Hampshire, since Nevada,” he said. “Every state is important. Michigan is very, very important. Last time around in 2016, I was told, ‘Impossible, you can’t win Michigan.’ In fact, the day before the election, we were 20 points down in some of these polls.
“I think we got a great shot to win in Michigan. I think we got a great shot to win in Washington. Maybe some other states as well. We have a long, long way to go to the Democratic nomination, and we’re going to fight for every vote that we can get.”
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