Transcript: Bernie Sanders on "Face the Nation," March 1, 2020

Sanders says he'll have "more than enough money" to beat Trump

The following is a transcript of an interview with Sen. Bernie Sanders that aired Sunday, March 1, 2020, on "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to Senator Bernie Sanders. He is on the campaign trail in Norfolk, Virginia. Good morning to you, Senator.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Good morning, MARGARET. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is this now a two man race?

SEN. SANDERS: Well, all I can say is we have won the popular vote in Iowa. We won the New Hampshire primary. We won the Nevada caucus. We lost last night. We're looking forward to Super Tuesday. I think we've got a great chance to win in California, in Texas, in Massachusetts and a number of states around the country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: South Carolina is the first southern state. Does that indicate anything to you about your prospects in places like Virginia and- and North Carolina? Will Joe Biden really challenge you there?

SEN. SANDERS: Well, we're going to see. I mean, I think based on the polling, we're doing pretty well in Virginia. I think we've got a shot in North Carolina. All I can say is the issues that we are talking about and that is health care as a human right, raising the minimum wage to a living wage, dealing forcefully with the existential threat of climate change. Those are ideas, MARGARET, that I think are resonating all across this country. I think we have an excellent chance to do well on Tuesday and to win the Democratic nomination.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Joe Biden is blanketing the airwaves this morning. We know from your campaign that you raised forty six million dollars in February. That's a significant number. What do you think that does for you going into Super Tuesday? What edge?

SEN. SANDERS: Well, MARGARET, it is not only- it is not only the amount of money that we raised, and that is a phenomenal amount, it's how we raised it. We don't have a super PAC like Joe Biden. I don't go to rich people's homes like Joe Biden. I think Joe has contributions for more than $40 billionaires. What we have done is received more campaign contributions from more Americans than any candidate in the history of the United States, averaging eighteen dollars and 50 cents. This is a campaign of working people and by working people. And I'm extraordinarily proud of that. But we have enough money now not only to take us through Super Tuesday, but take us through the entire process fueled by the contributions of working class people all across this country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Your campaign said that if you are the nominee, you won't accept the financial help that Michael Bloomberg has offered. He said he'd extend it to any party nominee. Do you really want to turn down his bankroll?

SEN. SANDERS: Well, look, Mr. Bloomberg is free to do anything he can with his 60 billion dollars, and that's legal. All I can say is at this point, we are confident that we can receive the kind of campaign funding that we need from working class and middle class people, that we don't have to be beholden to any powerful special interests. Look, one of the things that upsets people--

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you would accept it?

SEN. SANDERS: --whether conservative or progressive, is- I didn't say that. What I would say--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right. 

SEN. SANDERS:-- is that he has the right to do anything he wants. Right now, we are confident, MARGARET, based on the fundraising that we are doing, is that we can beat Trump. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you are a democratic socialist. You have never officially entered the Democratic Party. In fact, you constantly criticize Democratic establishment. So how can you convince the country that you are the best candidate to unify Democrats and challenge President Trump?

SEN. SANDERS: Well, two points. I'm a member of the Democratic leadership. I've been in the Democratic caucus from my, you know, virtually my first day back in Congress 30 years ago and from- in the state of Vermont, where I live, I am supported by Democrats and have won the Democratic primary. But we will win because we have an agenda that speaks to independents, to Democrats, and to more than a few Republicans. Look, we are living at a time when the American people are sick and tired of the kind of income and wealth inequality that exists in America. All over this country, MARGARET, and I have been all over this country, you got millions of people are working 11, 12 bucks an hour. They can't afford childcare. They can't afford healthcare. They're scared to death about their retirement. They want a government that represents them, not just billionaire campaign contributors. That's how you win. You put together that coalition, multi-generational, multi-racial. That is what we're doing. No campaign out there has a stronger grassroots movement than we do. That's how you beat Trump. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

SEN. SANDERS: We're beating them in battleground states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. We can beat Trump.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You have rallies planned out in California. There is very much a concern about the spread of the coronavirus on the West Coast. Is it safe for you? Have you spoken to any government officials about whether people can really appear at your rally and not worry about their own health?

SEN. SANDERS: Well, actually, we have. I mean, that's a very fair question. And my campaign has spoken to public health officials on that issue. And right now, we are planning to do rallies not only in California, but in Utah, Minnesota and other states around the country.

MARGARET BRENNAN:  You've been sparring with the pro-Israel lobby known as AIPAC. You said it gives a platform for bigotry, which was seen as a swipe at Prime Minister Netanyahu. Today, Israel's ambassador to the UN says of you that you're not welcome in that country and "Anyone who calls our prime minister a racist is either a liar, an ignorant fool or both."  Do you see a political cost in taking on the pro-Israel lobby in this way?

SEN. SANDERS: Yeah, I do. I mean, they have a lot of money. They have a lot of power. Look, I'm Jewish and I'm very proud of my Jewish heritage. As a kid, I spent time in Israel. I am not in- anti-Israel. I will do everything I can to protect the independence and the security and the freedom of the Israeli people. But what we need in this country is a foreign policy that not only protects Israel, but deals with the suffering of the Palestinian people as well. You've got 70 percent youth unemployment in Gaza. People can't even leave that district, that area, major, major crises. It is not sustainable that we continued conflict in the Middle East until the United States develops an even handed policy. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah. 

SEN. SANDERS: So, I am pro-Israel. I am pro-Palestinian. I want to bring people together to finally achieve peace in that region.

MARGARET BRENNAN:  I want to ask you on foreign policy. The president just authorized a deal with the Taliban. What do you think of that? Because if you're commander in chief, you'd either follow through with it or halt the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

SEN. SANDERS: Well, I don't have enough details and the- and that peace agreement, needless to say, is going to have to go through the Afghan government. We don't know what's going to happen. One of the difficulties, to be very honest, MARGARET, in dealing with Trump, it is very hard to believe anything that he says, whether it's the coronavirus, whether what's going on in Afghanistan. But it is my view that the United States and I- I speak as somebody who helped lead the opposition to getting us into the war in Iraq. It is my view that we've got to end endless wars, that when we have five hundred thousand people in America sleeping out on the street and people can't afford health care, we got to invest in this country, not in endless wars.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Senator Sanders, thank you for joining us.