Watch CBSN Live

2020 Daily Trail Markers: Sanders' speech sparks debate on democratic socialism

Bernie Sanders defends democratic socialism
Bernie Sanders defends democratic socialism 05:29

CBS News political correspondent Ed O'Keefe reports that Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders today sought to explain and defend his political ideology – democratic socialism.  

"That is the difference between Donald Trump and me," Sanders said in a speech at George Washington University. "He believes in corporate socialism for the rich and powerful, I believe in a democratic socialism that works for the working families of this country."

Sanders is running for the Democratic nomination, but he's identified as a socialist since being elected to Congress in the 1990s. Since his 2016 presidential campaign, his views — especially to expand the Medicare program — have become more mainstream.

Now, Republicans and President Trump talk about socialism on a daily basis, eager to cast Democrats as out of step.

But CBS News White House producer Fin Gomez has learned that polling conducted by the Trump campaign shows Sanders might be catching on. He leads the President in four states Mr. Trump won in 2016 – Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. 

Among Democrats, Sanders is running second to frontrunner Joe Biden. Lesser known, more moderate Democratic presidential contenders are warning their party not to embrace Sanders and his ideas.


VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: If there was any worry that Biden would continue to skip out on the large gatherings of Democrats, those complaints may be dispelled, as his campaign tells CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson he has committed to attending the 2019 Polk County Democrats Steak Fry in September. The Iowa gathering was previously known as the Harkin Steak Fry, after the former Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, who hosted the event for almost 40 years while in office. Biden, like the majority of the other presidential contenders, is expected to meet, greet and eat his way through the August Iowa State Fair, as well.

CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster was with Biden on the final two stops of his latest Iowa swing on Wednesday. At his stop in Clinton, Biden confirmed to CBS News that his son Hunter got married again. During that appearance in Clinton, Biden focused on health care, education and curing cancer. He teased a major speech coming soon before talking about cancer. He also said this about finding a cure: "We're not going to cure all cancer, but we can fundamentally change cancer. We can cure some cancers and we can be in position where we can fundamentally alter and prevent as well as deal with making it a chronic disease and not a life threatening disease." 

During a stop at the Tasty Cafe in Eldridge earlier in the day, he talked about democratic socialism and preparing for the upcoming debates. Reacting to Sanders' speech, Biden said, "I think Bernie means what he says." He said the presidential candidates are mostly aligned but have some disagreements. He added: "I won't comment on Bernie's characterization of who or what he is. He's sincere about what he thinks and I think he should go out and say it." He also reiterated that calling the upcoming DNC presidential debates "debates" is an "exaggeration" because there isn't much time for candidates to speak.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG: Wednesday marks three years since the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting, and the South Bend mayor sent an email to supporters saying: "It was an attack on all of us. It was an attack on individuals expressing their sexuality, their heritage, their gender, and their freedom."  In the email, CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman says Buttigieg urged Congress to pass universal background checks and an assault weapons ban. "Evil flows from peoples' ability to see another human being as something other than a person; good comes from the ability to see and treasure another's humanity as one's own," Buttigieg said. "That's also called love, and love is going to win."

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS: On Wednesday, Harris introduced a policy proposal to revive DACA, which President Trump ended in 2017, and provide recipients or "DREAMers" with a pathway to citizenship through various executive actions. CBS News campaign reporter Stephanie Ramirez says this is the California senator's third policy proposal as a presidential candidate that calls for executive action.

GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER: Ramirez also reports says that the former Colorado governor is giving a rebuttal on Thursday to Sanders' speech on democratic socialism. 

"While Sanders has attacked those in the center for preaching incrementalism, the reality is that pragmatists don't say 'no' to big ideas, they figure out how to actually get them done. While government plays a vital role in tackling big challenges, it has rarely been successful alone," Hickenlooper plans to say Thursday, according to his prepared remarks. This comment and others are part of a message Hickenlooper has been repeating (and got booed for in California): "Democrats must say loudly and clearly that we are not socialists. If we do not, we will end up reelecting the worst president in our country's history."

BETO O'ROURKE: CBS News campaign reporter Tim Perry and CBS News Political Unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice report that Beto O'Rourke released his LGBTQ+ Equality Plan today calling for executive actions, working with Congress and working with our allies globally to ensure equality for members of that community.  

The plan includes repealing Mr. Trump's transgender military ban and passing the Equality Act to "ensure LGBTQ+ people may fully participate in public life without discrimination in employment, housing and access to public spaces." O'Rourke says as president he would instruct his Justice Department to investigate the murders of trans women, especially women of color. Beto told Perry "transgender women of color helped to inform the proposal" and named activist Jeynce Poindexter as someone who helped him craft this plan.

CBS News spoke to the former Texas congressman during a 5k Pride Run in New York City Wednesday. O'Rourke was asked during the run if he would vote for New York Mayor Bill De Blasio if he weren't also running for president. His response? "Probably not, to be honest. But I think he is a good person who is doing his best for this city and this country."

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: The Vermont senator's speech in Washington was a full-throated defense of democratic socialism today, says CBS News campaign reporter Cara Korte. Here's some context to remember:

  • Since his previous run for president, "socialism" has increased in popularity. A 2018 Gallup poll found that 37% of Americans viewed socialism favorably, an increase of two percentage points from 2016. Conversely, 47% of Democrats viewed capitalism positively, down from 56% in 2016. And while socialism was significantly less popular than capitalism and free enterprise, it was the only one of those three that increased in popularity nationally between 2016 and 2018.
  • While Sanders embraced the term on Wednesday in Washington, he has seldom directly referenced it on the campaign trail. He made no mention of democratic socialism in his campaign kickoff remarks in March, nor in his campaign announcement video.
  • "I'm a full-throated capitalist," Democratic presidential candidate John Delaney told Korte in a phone interview yesterday. "What the United States of America is, is a free market economy. Where capitalism is able to work its magic, which is to innovate and create jobs."

Here's why Korte says this matters: We are witnessing a distinguishing moment in this Democratic primary. There is division in the field between moderates and progressives. 

For Sanders, he is seeing "progressive" and raising "democratic socialism." Biden is arguing that the system is broken because Mr. Trump is a clog. Once the president leaves office, the system will function properly again. 

Sanders says the system is fundamentally rigged against the working man — that the engineering of our country must be restructured to move forward. One requires superficial reworking, the other a deeply rooted political revolution. We'll see what voters prefer. 


ENDORSEMENTS: Anti-abortion rights group Susan B. Anthony's List gave its first Senate endorsement of the 2020 cycle to Senator Thom Tillis this morning, says CBS News Political Unit associate producer Ellee Watson. The group has also endorsed Dr. Joan Perry who is running in the Republican primary runoff on July 9 for North Carolina's third Congressional District. The abortion debate in North Carolina is front and center after the Republican state assembly failed to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's veto on a heartbeat bill, and Planned Parenthood is opening in Charlotte this month, making it the fourth abortion clinic in the state. 

IN THE POLLS: A new Monmouth University poll out of Nevada has Biden leading the pack of Democratic presidential hopefuls at 36%, says Ewall-Wice. He's followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 19% and Sanders at 13%. Buttigieg is polling fourth with 7%, and Harris rounds out the top five at 6%. While you can't make too much of Warren pulling ahead of Sanders with the 5.1% margin of error, our polling unit says the poll does appear in line with other surveys they've seen with an increase in support for Warren recently. Of note, the poll did not move the bar on how many candidates met the polling threshold for the first Democratic presidential debates, which by CBS News' count currently stands at 20.

JUST FOR FUN: CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster says he has driven MORE THAN 1,000 MILES in his rental car in JUST ONE WEEK while covering the 2020 presidential candidates!

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.