Socialist Sanders reaches out to conservative evangelicals

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is looking to find common ground with an unlikely voting bloc: conservative evangelicals.

In a speech to students Monday morning at the Liberty University, the self-proclaimed socialist senator from Vermont made the case that his message against income inequality and for social justice is compatible with Christian teachings.

"I came here today because I believe that it is important for those with different views in our country to engage in civil discourse — not just to shout at each other or make fun of each other. It is very easy for those in politics to talk to those who agree with us. I do that every day," Sanders told students. "It is harder, but not less important, to try to communicate with those who do not agree with us and see where, if possible, we can find common ground and, in other words, to reach out of our zone of comfort."

The school, founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, often draws prominent conservative figures. Its weekly convocations are attended by over 10,000 Christian students, much of the reason why Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, chose the school as the place to launch his presidential bid late last spring. Former Florida Republican Gov. Jeb Bush keynoted the school's commencement prior to launching his bid. In 2012, the school also saw a visit from Donald Trump.