Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) took issue on Sunday with CNN anchor Jake Tapper bringing up comments he made over 45 years ago, sarcastically asking if Tapper had also dug up his “third-grade essay” as well.
Following Sanders’ strong showing in the Iowa caucus and polls showing him primed for a first-place finish in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, other candidates have been taking aim at the independent Vermont senator over his democratic socialist positions, claiming Sanders would hurt the Democratic Party if he wins the nomination.
On Sunday’s broadcast of CNN’s State of the Union, Tapper brought up the complaints from moderate Democrats that Sanders’ message is not a winning one, prompting the progressive lawmaker to insist that his “agenda is precisely the agenda that the overwhelming number of people want.”
Tapper, meanwhile, noted that Sanders regularly talks about income inequality on the campaign trail, leading him to point out that Sanders once proposed an income cap.
“Our investigative KFILE team found out that in 1974 you said it should be illegal to earn more money than someone could spend in his or her lifetime,” the CNN host said. “You proposed a maximum wage cap on the highest earners.”
“What year was that?” Sanders wondered as Tapper added that it was 45 years ago.
“Look, Jake, in all due respect, that was seven years before I was [elected mayor],” Sanders objected. “Did you go back to my third-grade essay when I was in PS 197 about what I said?!”
Tapper pushed back that Sanders was a “grown man in your thirties” when he made those remarks. Sanders, for his part, asked Tapper if they could actually talk about his record as an elected official.
“Let’s talk about my mayor’s record where I was a transformative mayor re-elected three times.” the former Burlington mayor stated. “You know, we can go back to things that I said in the ‘70s. I don’t think it’s productive. I’ve been a senator for 16 years—senator for 14 years, congressman for 16 years.”
The State of the Union host, however, continued to press Sanders on the original question—whether or not he currently favors a wage cap like the one he proposed in 1974?
“50 years ago, mmm—look, what I just said is when you have massive levels of income and wealth inequality—by the way, in the last three years under Trump, the billionaire class has seen hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars increase in their wealth,” Sanders replied.
“The average American worker has seen less than a one percent increase in real wages last year.” he continued. “That’s the issue that we’ve got to deal with right now. We need an economy that works for working people not just for the billionaire class, which is what we have under Trump’s economy.”