Senator Bernie Sanders is one of the many progressives “seriously considering” a run for the presidency in 2020. And he took one step closer to that eventuality on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Thursday night.
Ostensibly, Sanders was there to promote his latest book, Where We Go from Here: Two Years in the Resistance, but really he was there to pump up his base.
Asked how he’s feeling after the midterm elections, Sanders answered, “A lot better now than before the midterms. Democrats won 40 seats, now control the House, won several governors’ seats and several hundred seats in state legislatures all over the country. So I think, as I recall, Trump said this election was about him. It was, he lost, that’s a good thing.”
Now that there is a new Democratic Congress, Sanders said, “Trump has got to understand that he’s going to obey the law.”
“That is a high bar,” Colbert joked.
“That means the Democrats in the House, I know, will start holding him accountable,” Sanders continued. “I mean, questions like making sure that the Mueller investigation is not interfered with, that Mueller is allowed to do his work. Asking interesting questions as to whether Trump’s affinity for dictators all over the world is based not just on his authoritarian tendencies but maybe financial interests in Russia and Saudi Arabia.”
As Colbert noted, when Sanders first started pushing “Medicare for All” people thought it was too radical. Now, it has been embraced by most progressives. “What proposals do you have now that people are going to say, ‘Oh, that's crazy Bernie,’ but five years from now they will say, ‘Oh, we should have done that?’”
The senator didn’t have any major predictions to share, but he did try to highlight how important it is that Democrats can now put forward legislation in the House. “It is one thing for a Republican in the Senate to do nothing, you can get away with that,” he said. “It’s another thing to have to vote against providing health care for all, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, making sure that our kids do not leave school deeply in debt, dealing with criminal justice, that is the profound difference.”
Later, Colbert asked Sanders “how quickly” he would take back President George H.W. Bush over Donald Trump.
“First of all, let’s not forget when we talk about H.W. Bush, he was a war hero,” Sanders said, picking up on a contrast Colbert also highlighted this week. “Of course I disagreed with him, but he was an honest man, he was a decent man, he loved his country very much, and you know, we wish that we could have a president who is honest back in the White House again.”
The only question remaining was will that “honest” man be Bernie Sanders? “I know you’re not going to answer the question so I’m not going to ask you if you’re running in 2020, so don’t make me ask it, just tell me,” Colbert said.
“The answer is, look, when you run for president of the United States, especially in this ugly political world that we live in right now, it is a very difficult decision for one’s family,” Sanders said. “And what I am looking at very hard right now is trying to—and there are some really good people out there, many personal friends of mine, who are thinking about running as well—and I’m trying to ascertain, quite honestly, going beyond ego, A, which candidate has the best chance to beat Trump and, B, which candidate’s ideas can most turn this country around so that we have a government that works for all of us and not just the people on top.”
Asked what he thinks of Beto O’Rourke, Sanders said he “ran a very, very good grassroots campaign in Texas” but also shouted out Senate colleagues Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker as strong contenders. “One has to try to be objective, not subjective, and say, ‘OK, do I think I can be the best candidate in helping to turn the country around and helping defeat Trump?’ That’s kind of where we are right now.”
“OK, so you’re running?” Colbert asked.
Laughing, Sanders replied, “And you will be my vice presidential candidate!”