Bernie Sanders was accused of praising a segregationist leader on Thursday after a 1972 article resurfaced in which he told a Vermont newspaper that he thought then-Alabama Gov. George Wallace was “sensitive” to what people felt they needed. The Washington Examiner reports that Sanders—currently a Vermont senator and a 2020 contender—was a gubernatorial candidate for the socialist Liberty Union Party at the time of the interview with the Brattleboro Reformer. Sanders said that while Wallace advocated for some “outrageous approaches to our problems,” he was “sensitive to what people feel they need.” “What we need are more active politicians working for the people,” Sanders added.
A spokesman for Sanders noted that the 2020 candidate also “compared George Wallace to Hitler.” “Throughout his entire life, he’s warned about demagogues like Wallace and Donald Trump using hate and fear to divide people up. The fact that Sen. Sanders has recognized this for decades shows that he's the best candidate to take on Trump,” spokesman Mike Casca told The Daily Beast.
CNN reported earlier that Sanders wrote an essay in which he compared support for Wallace to the conditions in Germany in the 1920s that brought Adolf Hitler to power. George Wallace, who served as governor of Alabama four times between the 1960s and the early 1980s, ardently supported segregation—stating in his inaugural speech that he backed “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” He ran for president three times, and later apologized for some of his racist actions.