In some of his sharpest language yet attacking President Trump, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders accused the Republican president of being racist and sexist and much more during a speech before Al Sharpton's National Action Network.
“It gives me no pleasure to tell you that we have a president today who is a racist, who is a sexist, who is a homophobe, who is a xenophobe, and who is a religious bigot. I wish I did not have to say that. But that is the damn truth,” the independent senator from Vermont said on Friday.
Sanders, who’s running for a second straight time for the Democratic presidential nomination, made his comments during an appearance in New York before the civil rights organization founded by Sharpton. A slew of other 2020 candidates joined him at the conference.
“During Donald Trump’s presidency we have seen a sharp rise in hate crimes and that rise comes as this country continues to be plagued by institutional racism and racial inequality,” Sanders stressed.
Running through a litany of differences between himself and the president, Sanders argued that “when Trump and his real estate empire were discriminating against African Americans here in New York, I and others in the civil rights movement were protesting that kind of housing discrimination in Chicago and marching on Washington with Dr. (Martin Luther) King.”
And he charged that “when Donald Trump and his allies were trying to suppress the black vote in the 2016 election, I was running around this country campaigning for Hillary Clinton and pressing for automatic voter registration to expand the vote.”
At the end of his appearance, Sanders voiced support for studying the possibility of reparations for descendants of slaves.
Asked if he as president he would sign into law a bill currently in the House of Representatives that would study and consider reparation payments, Sanders answered, “of course I would sign it.”
“There needs to be a study,” he added.
But Sanders quickly highlighted that “what I think we need to do… is to pay real attention to the most distressed communities in America. We’ve got to use ten percent of all federal funds to make sure that kids who need it get the education, get the jobs, get the environmental protection that they need.”
Sanders rejected the idea of financial reparations during his 2016 White House bid, and last month again pushed back against the proposal.
“I think that right now, our job is to address the crises facing the American people and our communities, and I think there are better ways to do that than just writing out a check,” Sanders said during an appearance on “The View.”
The idea of slavery reparations for black Americans is at least partially backed by at least seven other Democratic presidential candidates so far – Harris; Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts; Beto O’Rourke; former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro; South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg; businessman Andrew Yang; and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who has co-sponsored the House bill.