(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, saying amid the crisis, people “should not have to worry about” their health care.
The interview with Sanders comes as he’s acknowledged that his path to the nomination is narrowing and 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.
“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.”
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 President Donald 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.”
The Vermont senator is currently down over 300 pledged delegates to the current Democratic front-runner, former Vice President Joe 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.
Sanders continues to face questions about why he’s choosing to remain in the race, particularly with Trump’s approval rating ticking up slightly in recent weeks. Sanders pushed back when co-host Whoopi Goldberg asked about his narrowing path th 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 and said his poor performance on Super Tuesday was caused by the former candidates throwing their support behind Biden.
“I think the main reason is that several of my opponents kind of dropped out right before Super Tuesday,” said Sanders.
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.
Sanders’ campaign officials told ABC News that they want to see him continue his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, citing the uncertainty within this election cycle — including state primary postponements due to COVID-19.
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