Sanders touts his common ground with conservatives

Bernie Sanders: Universal healthcare and free... 01:40

Earlier this month, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, deviated from the normal path of a Democratic presidential candidate and delivered a speech at Liberty University, a Christian college in Virginia.

Sanders has different views on social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage with many of the students there, but his message was on an area he hopes they can work together: Economic inequality.

"Can we not get together and talk about creating an economy that works for all of us, and not just millionaires and billionaires? When children go hungry in America, that is a moral issue. When 51 percent of African-American kids are either unemployed or underemployed, that is a moral issue," he said in an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday.

"At Liberty University, and among the evangelical community, you have some very sincere, honest people who take these issues seriously. And, by the way, many of them are concerned, as Pope Francis is, about climate change, and the need to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel. They believe that the Earth, created by God, cannot be destroyed by greed. And my question was, can we work together to address those issues?" he said.

Sanders is still dogged in his focus on income inequality and getting money out politics. He said that the early exit from the presidential race by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker - a Republican candidate who had a wealthy super PAC and was well-liked by the billionaire Koch brothers - does not mean that money has become less influential in politics.

"I wish that the Koch brothers would say, well, gee, now we're going to take the $900 million that we planned to spend in this campaign supporting right-wing Republicans, more, by the way, than either the Democratic Party or the Republican Party will spend, and we're not going to spend it," he said. "I don't think the Koch brothers learned that lesson. I think the power of money over the political process is horrendous."

Sen. Bernie Sanders: I will not attack Hillar... 02:53

Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have both said they won't attack each other on the campaign trail, but the two are still airing their differences on issues like whether a college education should be free. Reflecting on Sanders' push for free tuition at public colleges and universities, Clinton said, "I am not going to give free college to wealthy kids. I'm not going to give free college to kids who don't work some hours to try to put their own effort into getting their education."

Sanders said he stands by his idea, which is not free college anywhere but merely free tuition in the public education system.

"I think it is simple, it's straightforward. It exists in other countries and, in fact...50 or 60 years ago, used to exist in the United States of America," he said.

He predicted his agenda won't be popular among most wealthy people because he will ask the wealthiest Americans to pay "substantially more in taxes," as well as large, profitable corporations.

These differences will play out in the Democratic debates, and Sanders said he has "the feeling that there will be" more than the six currently scheduled.

"I think debates are a good way for candidates to differentiate their differences. I think it's good for the American people. I think it promotes a serious discussion in our democracy. And I would like to see more of them," he said.

Bernie Sanders: House Speaker Boehner had “... 04:01

He also weighed in on House Speaker John Boehner's abrupt announcement last week that he is retiring at the end of October.

"John has had an impossibly difficult job trying to reconcile the conservative wing of his caucus with the extreme, extreme right wing of his caucus that really will not do anything and pass any legislation that Barack Obama will sign," he said. "It's an impossible job. And I admire John for his tenacity and hanging in there for five tough years."

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for