(NEW YORK) — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders joined the hosts of ABC’s The View remotely on Wednesday, as the novel coronavirus and related “stay at home” orders cripple much of the nation, defending his decision to stay in the race for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president.
Sanders continues to face questions about why he’s choosen to keep going, particularly with President Donald Trump’s approval rating ticking up slightly in recent weeks. He pushed back when co-host Whoopi Goldberg asked about his narrowing path to victory.
“Last I heard, people in a Democracy have a right to vote and have a right to vote for the agenda that they think can work for America,” he said, adding, “In this unprecedented moment in American history, I think we need to have a very serious discussion about how we go forward.”
The senator said he continues to assess his campaign, crediting the former candidates who dropped out crediting for his poor performance on Super Tuesday. Especially as his former opponents threw their support behind former vice president and current Democratic front-runner Joe Biden.
“I think the main reason is that several of my opponents kind of dropped out right before Super Tuesday,” he said.
Bernie Sanders on staying in the race: “Last I heard, people in a democracy have a right to vote and have a right to vote for the agenda that they think can work for America, especially in this very, very difficult moment. We are assessing our campaign.” https://t.co/XqBZIxsIGR pic.twitter.com/WPNsidZQ7f
— ABC News (@ABC) April 1, 2020
The Vermont senator is currently down over 300 pledged delegates to Biden, and the narrow path to a spot on November’s ballot now appears even steeper than the one in front of him at this point in 2016.
The interview with Sanders comes as much of his campaign has shifted focus to COVID-19 response.
Even as accusations have sprung up recently that the Vermont senator is politicizing the COVID-19 pandemic as a means to further his platform — he continued to highlight his Medicare for All plan on The View, saying amid the crisis, people “should not have to worry about” their health care.
“In coming together, we got to do a couple of things. And one thing is, especially in this crisis, people should not have to worry about the cost of healthcare, they should not have to worry about whether they can afford prescription drugs, or not.” Sanders told the hosts. “They should not have to worry about them the pharmaceutical industry is going to make billions of dollars by creating a vaccine that will be unaffordable for ordinary people.”
Sen. @BernieSanders responds to critics of his push for Medicare-for all amid coronavirus pandemic.
“Should we put politics aside and all come together? Of course we should,” he says, adding “in coming together,” we have to “guarantee health care to all.” https://t.co/3KIuxmVGhR pic.twitter.com/HHkFNNiOTh
— The View (@TheView) April 1, 2020
Co-host Sarah Haines said people are scared amid the coronavirus pandemic, and she said a lot of that is due to misinformation, including what’s coming from the daily White House press briefings. She asked Sanders about the number one issue at the top of his mind. He turned to Trump.
“Trump from the very beginning downplayed the threat of this virus. The idea that today we have doctors and nurses in this country that do not have masks that cost 50 cents or a dollar apiece is unbelievable,” he said. “Not enough ventilators, gloves, gowns. That speaks to this health care system, but right now we have to listen to the scientists.”
He also continued to criticize the coronavirus response package signed by Trump just last week.
“We have the absurd situation that the recent stimulus bill compensate you for the cost of the testing that they may need for the current environment,” said Sanders. “It does not come with a treatment.”
He later added, “[Trump’s] inaction has cost the lives of many many Americans.”
Sanders also revealed that at least two people involved with his campaign had been infected with COVID-19.
” It’s very difficult to me, but it’s difficult to everybody in the country and most of the people around,” Sanders told the hosts. “I’ll give you an example. I just heard literally two minutes ago that someone who was working on my campaign was terribly ill, on the ventilator. Good news is she’s out right now and she’s healthy. On the other hand, somebody else on the campaign passed away a couple of days ago.”
He added, “I think we all have to take a deep breath and appreciate we are living in an unprecedented moment in American history.”
His campaign, continuing to focus on fighting the impacts of the coronavirus, has mobilized its sophisticated volunteer network to call their senators to lobby for Sanders’ coronavirus-response plan, to update voters about changes to elections because of COVID-19 and to check on the well-being of fellow supporters.
Emails from the Sanders campaign to supporters have been missing their typical appeal for donations to his campaign. Instead, the emails have called for recipients to read his coronavirus response plan or asked for help providing relief to workers impacted by the pandemic-related shutdowns and closures.
The campaign released a statement last week saying it raised more than $2 million for COVID-19 relief efforts and pushed again in a solicitation Tuesday for assistance for restaurant workers, artists, tenants struggling to make rent and others affected by the outbreak.
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