Bernie Sanders photo

Interview with Dana Bash of CNN

September 24, 2015

BASH: And, Senator, thank you very much.

I actually was able to see you from my perch in the visitor's gallery, the press gallery, during this speech. You, just like really pretty much all of your colleagues, were watching so intently. What did you think?

SANDERS: I thought he did a wonderful job. And I think he is just an extraordinarily unusual person. A leader not just of the Catholic Church, but one of the great moral and religious leaders of our time and in modern history. And I think he came here today and touched on some very, very important issues that a lot of people would prefer not to talk about, and that is the issue of poverty, the issue of environmental degradation, immigration, the death penalty, the need to do everything we can to create a peaceful world. And I think he did it in a very dignified and non-partisan type way.

BASH: Right, because before he actually spoke and before we saw the text of what he was going to say, there was some trepidation really on both sides of the aisle about whether he would kind of give a scolding, which would be tough to take from somebody like the pope.


BASH: But it didn't come across that way.

SANDERS: No, it didn't. And he is not only - he's a very smart man, but he also, he understands the politics of the United States. He understands that he was invited by the Republican leadership and it would have been totally inappropriate, I think he believed, to suddenly become partisan and make veiled attacks. And that's not what he did.

But I think it - the remarks that he gave today are consistent with his views that we need a world economy that works for everybody and not just for the wealthy few. That we must pay attention to environmental degradation and climate change. That we have so much poverty that we just cannot turn our backs on it. I think that was the message that came out today and I appreciate it.

BASH: I mean this pope, if you look at where he has decided to be most vocal, it could be a Sanders for president, you know, long bumper sticker.


BASH: I mean he really does - he really is in line with where you - where you think.

SANDERS: Yes, he is. But, you know, one of the four Americans that he cited was a woman named Dorothy Day.

BASH: Right.

SANDERS: Most people don't know who Dorothy Day was. I think that's fair to say. She was -

BASH: They do now.

SANDERS: They do now. She was a very, very progressive woman, a socialist, who organized working people and the poor to stand up to the wealthy and the powerful and to fight for social justice. The fact that he cited her is, not to mention Martin Luther King Jr., as one of people that he appreciated tells you exactly where this man is coming from in the global world.

BASH: The fact that he talked about a socialist?

SANDERS: Yes. The fact that he talked about somebody who spent her life fighting for the poor and fighting for justice.

BASH: And that's on those issues, but then, of course, when he talked about climate change, saying that it is human made -


BASH: It's manmade.


BASH: Talking about immigration -


BASH: In a way that, as you said, you know, saying it was a golden rule.


BASH: You know, a lot of issues certainly appeared to make Republicans a bit uncomfortable.

SANDERS: Yes. Yes.

BASH: But then it's the same on the progressive side. I mean he did - he didn't - maybe he wasn't as aggressive in talking about the issue of abortion or same-sex marriage -


BASH: But he made clear what his personal beliefs are.


BASH: What the - what the doctrine of the church is.

SANDERS: Look, I think he handled himself in a very dignified way. He was an invited guest and he was not here to make partisan points or to embarrass anybody. And I respect that. And, you're right, certainly for me and for many other progressives, we disagree with the church on issues regarding a woman's right to choose or gay marriage. I support those.

BASH: Now, one last question. You have been around here for a few years.

SANDERS: A few years.

BASH: Seen a few speeches.


BASH: From presidents, heads of state. Have you ever seen the chamber filled with lawmakers so intently focused?

SANDERS: I think not. I think that's a good point. And, you know, I could have lived without people standing up and applauding, by the way. But I think there was great attentiveness and great respect for the pope and I think that's a good thing.

BASH: Why could you have lived without people applauding?

SANDERS: Because I didn't want to -

BASH: Even on things that you agreed with?

SANDERS: Yes, absolutely. I mean this - you know, of course I was one of those who stood up, but I think - it was fine, but mostly we're there to listen to what a very great man is telling us.

BASH: Thank you, Senator. Appreciate it.

SANDERS: Thanks. Thank you.

Bernie Sanders, Interview with Dana Bash of CNN Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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