Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) refused to guarantee on Monday night during CNN’s town hall event that the United States would not become a socialist nation if he were elected to office. Sanders also refused to call Venezuelan socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro a dictator because he claimed that Venezuela still had “democratic operations taking place.”
“Senator, why have you stopped short of calling Maduro of Venezuela a dictator?” CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked.
“Well, he, I think it’s fair to say that the last election was undemocratic,” Sanders responded. “But there are still democratic operations taking place in their country. The point is, what I am calling for right now is internationally supervised free elections.”
Sanders then sought to deflect from the question by attacking President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia.
“And I do find it interesting that Trump is very concerned about what goes on in Venezuela but what about the last election that took place in Saudi Arabia,” Sanders continued. “Oh, there wasn’t any election in Saudi Arabia, oh, women are treated as third class citizens. So I find it interesting that Trump is kind of selective as to where he is concerned about democracy. My record is to be concerned about democracy all over the world. So we’ve got to do everything we can, but at the end of the day, it’s going to be the people of Venezuela who determine the future of their country, not the United States of America.”
“Senator, President Trump said in a State of the Union address, and I am quoting him now, this is the president, ‘America will never be a socialist country,’” Blitzer said. “Will that hold true if you’re elected president?”
“If I am elected president, we will have a nation in which all people have health care as a right,” Sanders responded. “Whether Trump likes it or not. We are going to make public colleges and universitiestuition-free. We are going to raise the minimum wage to a living wage of at least 15 bucks an hour, and whether Trump likes it or not, when I talk about human rights, you know what that also means, it means that our kids and grandchildren have the human right to grow up in a planet that is healthy and habitable.”
“And it is really a disgrace and an embarrassment that we have a president who rejects science, who does not even understand that climate change is real and caused by human activity, who does not understand what this planet will look like in years to come if we do not go forward boldly and transform our energy system away from fossil fuels,” Sanders added.
Since Sanders’ announcement earlier this month that he is running for president, he has “collected $10 million from 359,914 donors,” of which, nearly “39 percent of those donors used an email address that had never before been used to give to Mr. Sanders,” The New York Times reported.
In 2016, Sanders’ primary run “was powered by $230 million in grass-roots giving,” The Times noted.