Can Bernie Sanders win over Donald Trump supporters?(Read article summary)
The Democratic presidential candidate said Sunday that he could win over Donald Trump's 'angry' fans by tapping into their source of frustration – economic inequality.
Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune
Bernie Sanders has made a gutsy claim.
In an interview broadcast Sunday, the Democratic presidential candidate said he could win over the supporters of none other than Donald Trump, the current GOP frontrunner.
“Look, many of Trump’s supporters are working-class people, and they’re angry,” Mr. Sanders said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “And they’re angry because they’re working longer hours for lower wages. They’re angry because their jobs have left this country and gone to China or other low-wage countries.”
The self-declared Democratic socialist and his businessman opponent are both outsiders in their respective political parties. Sanders currently trails behind Hillary Clinton, but instead of appealing to voters among fellow Democrats in his television appearance Sunday, he’s looking across the aisle.
By tapping into the frustration of Mr. Trump’s voters, the Vermont Senator said, he would court them with shrewd economic policies instead of impudent rhetoric.
“What Trump has done with some success is taken that anger, taken those fears which are legitimate, and converted them into anger against Mexicans, anger against Muslims,” he said, “and in my view that is not the way we’re going to address the major problems facing our country.”
Sanders went on to suggest that Trump’s proposed tax breaks to the wealthy would be counterproductive for his supporters, a significant portion of whom earn less than the national average income.
“The real issues are not Donald Trump’s vulgarity – and he is vulgar. It is the fact that Donald Trump thinks we should not be raising the minimum wage,” Sanders continued. “He believes that wages in America are too high. This guy wants to give hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the top three-tenths of the one percent, and meanwhile what he wants to do is divide our country between Latinos and Americans and Muslims and everybody else.”
“In fact,” Sanders added, “he has said that he thinks wages in America are too high.”
To this point, Trump objected in response on Twitter.
Bernie Sanders, “who blew his campaign when he gave Hillary a pass on her e-mail crime, said that I feel wages in America are too high," Trump tweeted after Sanders’ interview aired. “Lie!”
He reiterated his position – that wages, in fact, are too low – in a series of tweets Monday. But in previous interviews, the real-estate mogul has claimed otherwise.
"We have to become competitive with the world. Our taxes are too high, our wages are too high. Everything is too high. We have to compete with other countries,” he said in a November interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
But does Sanders really have a chance in swaying the votes of Trump’s sturdy base of supporters? Considering at one point, polls showed that up to 20 percent of Trump supporters consider themselves “moderate” or “liberal,” Sanders might have a chance.
"For his working-class and middle-class support," Sanders said, "we can make the case that if we really want to address the issues that people are concerned about ... we need policies that bring us together, that take on the greed of Wall Street, the greed of corporate America, and create a middle class that works for all of us rather than an economy that works just for a few."