Sen. Bernie Sanders warned Monday that if Democrats focus on an attack strategy against President Donald Trump ahead of the 2020 election, “we lose.”
In a wide-ranging town hall sponsored by Fox News and held in Bethlehem, Pa. — a state that helped Trump win in 2016 — an energetic and confident Sanders hit some of the hot-button issues likely to be part of his second run at the White House, including political strategy, taxing the rich and a single-payer healthcare system.
“I don’t think the American people are proud that we have a president who is a pathological liar,” he said. “It does not give me pleasure to say that. I disagreed with George W. Bush on almost everything. Bush was not a pathological liar. … It’s hard to believe anything that he says.”
But, he added, “if we spend all of our time attacking… Democrats are going to lose. Our job is to lay out a vision that makes sense to the working families of this country, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Sanders also was grilled on his taxes, which were released Tuesday — and he was unapologetic for being a millionaire, emphasizing he voted against a 2017 tax bill from which he admittedly benefited.
“You raised the issue I’m a millionaire,” he said, adding: “It came from a book that I wrote, pretty good book, you might want to read it… and we made money. If anyone thinks that I should apologize for writing a best-selling book, I’m sorry, I’m not going to do it.
“But let me reiterate, I voted against [the tax cut bill].”
He also took a sharp slap at Trump’s refusal to release his taxes.
“The president watches your network a bit, right?” he asked hosts Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, which triggered laughs from the audience and smiles of the hosts.
Then looking at the camera, Sanders said: “Hey President Trump, my wife and I just released 10 years of our taxes. Please do the same.”
There were brief boos from an otherwise supportive audience when the subject of terminating a pregnancy at birth was was raised.
“I think that that happens very, very rarely,” he said, adding “it’s being made into a political issue but at the end of the day, I believe that the decision over abortion belongs to a woman and her physician, not the federal government, not the state government.”
Sanders also promoted a single-payer healthcare system.
“We are not talking about government-run healthcare,” he said. “The Veterans Administration and most veterans think that that’s a pretty good healthcare system… What we are talking about is simply a single-payer insurance program, which means that you will have a card which says Medicare on it, you will go to any doctor that you want, you will go to any hospital that you want.”
Sanders also addressed outspoken criticism by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., of Israel. “I think that she has got to do a better job in speaking to the Jewish community, but if your question to me is do I think she’s anti-Semitic, no, I don’t.
“Here is the point, also, I’m Jewish. I lost my father’s family, devastated by Hitler, so this is an issue of some sensitivity to me. I will do everything in my power, and I hope every member of Congress will fight not only anti-Semitism, but racism and anti-Muslim activity so we create a nondiscriminatory society. But it is not anti-Semitic to be critical of a right wing government in Israel. It is not anti-Semitic.”