Less than 24 hours after deadly terrorists attacks shut down the city of Brussels, Sen. Bernie Sanders seemed hardly in the mood for jokes when he sat down with Jimmy Kimmel for a late-night interview on Tuesday.
But nevertheless, the Democratic presidential candidate gamely played along with Kimmel’s shtick while managing to address some serious issues along the way.
As the host’s crowd cheered wildly, he asked Sanders how it felt to come to Los Angeles, where “a year ago nobody knew who you were.” It’s “a bit of a shock,” the Vermont senator said, but a “good shock.”
When Sanders appeared on the same show in Brooklyn back in October, Kimmel said he thought to himself, “This is a very smart guy, he has some very interesting ideas, he obviously loves his country, but there’s no way we’ll still be seeing him in March. And yet here you are.” He asked, “Are you surprised by this?”
“Yes and no,” Sanders said, launching into his typical stump speech on the middle class versus the top 1 percent. But things got more interesting when Kimmel turned to the terror attacks in Belgium.
“In times when we are under attack or our allies are under attack, it seems that Americans gravitate toward the candidate who talks the toughest,” Kimmel said, noting that GOP frontrunner Donald Trump’s numbers “shot up” in the aftermath of last fall’s Paris attacks. “Why do you think that is?”
“I think people get afraid, and for good reasons,” Sanders responded. “ISIS is a disgusting, barbaric organization. We’ve seen what they’ve done in Paris, what they’ve done in Brussels. People are afraid of an attack in the United States. But I think what we have to understand is we’re not going to undermine the Constitution of the United States of America in order to effectively destroy ISIS.”
“At the end of the day, we cannot allow the Trumps of the world to use these incidents to attack all of the Muslim people in the world. That is unfair,” he continued to cheers. “To imply that if somebody is a Muslim they’re a terrorist, that is an outrageous statement.”
In the hours after the Brussels attack, Trump doubled down on his call for a temporary ban of all Muslims entering the United States, telling Fox & Friends, “We have to be very, very vigilant as to who we allow into this country.” If he were president, he said, he would “close up our borders to people until we figure out what is going on.”
Responding to Sanders’s comments, Kimmel said that while he could imagine a President Trump dropping bombs on the homes of innocent people, it was much harder to envision the same from a President Sanders.
While Sanders said he “hopes” that no president would be forced to bomb innocent civilians, the candidate assured Kimmel that he would be willing and able to “use the military forces of our country in an effective and appropriate way.”
After reminding viewers that he voted against the Iraq War, Sanders added, “There are times when you do have to use force, and I certainly would be prepared to do that.”