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Sanders on campaign violence: "That's not what we do"

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said Sunday that he's never encouraged his supporters to disrupt rallies for GOP front-runner Donald Trump, saying the anger and violence Trump incites is "not good for the country."

"To suggest that our campaign is telling people to disrupt his campaign is a lie. We don't," he said. "And we have millions of supporters and some of them will do what they do. But our campaign has never, not once, organized any effort to disrupt Mr. Trump's rallies or anybody else's rallies. That's not what we do."

Sanders's comments came after Trump himself suggested Sanders supporters were causing the disruptions at his rallies, suggesting he may begin sending supporters to Sanders rallies to cause similar disruptions. He pointed to instances where a man sucker-punched a fellow rally attendee, and to allegations that Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski got rough with a female reporter, as proof of the "violence" of the Trump campaign.

"There's a lot of this feeling about violence coming from Trump's campaign," he said. "And I very much hope that he understands that in a democracy, people should be allowed to go to anybody's rally, peacefully demonstrate without fear of being beaten up. So I really hope he tones it down. This is not good for the country."

As for Tuesday's primaries in five states, including Ohio and Florida, Sanders said his stunning upset in Michigan bodes well for his performance across the map this week.

"Now last week, all of the pollsters predicted that we would lose Michigan by 15, 20, 25 points. Well, we ended up winning," he said. "I think we have a lot of momentum in Illinois, in Ohio, in Missouri. I think we're going to do better than people think in North Carolina and in Florida."

Moderator John Dickerson asked Sanders about health care and where he stood on the issue when his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton was spearheading the fight for universal health care back in the early years of her husband's presidency.

"I have always said that Hillary Clinton did a very, very good job as first lady. She kind of broke the mold as to what a first lady should be doing," Sanders said. "But to criticize me on healthcare is not quite fair because I have been a leader in Congress from day one in the fight for universal health care, to make certain that in the United States, we join the rest of the industrialized world, guarantee healthcare to all people.

Sanders went on to note that he worked with Rep. Jim Clyburn to help put $12 billion in funding toward community health centers, and that he's long taken on the pharmaceutical industry over drug prices. "I don't have to defend myself to anybody about the role I have played in health care," he said.

  • Emily Schultheis

    Emily Schultheis is a reporter/editor for CBS News Digital.