Bernie Sanders Takes On Donald Trump, Delivers Perfect Message On Why His Bigotry Should Never Prevail

Bernie Sanders desperately needs to catch Hillary Clinton to have a chance at the Democratic nomination, but in Saturday’s debate it was Donald Trump and the GOP frontrunner’s bigotry in Bernie’s crosshairs.

Speaking about the simmering fear many Americans have after terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, Sanders took aim at Trump’s attempts to stoke fear of immigrants and Muslims. He instead shifted the conversation to one of his campaign’s biggest talking points, the rising income inequality in America.

Slate provided a transcript of Bernie’s takedown, where he called out Donald Trump by name:

“Our people are fearful. They are anxious on a number of levels. They are anxious about international terrorism. And the possibility of another attack on America. We all understand that. But you know what else they’re anxious about? They’re anxious about the fact that they are working incredibly long hours, they’re worried about their kids and they’re seeing the income and wealth going to the top 1 percent. And they’re looking at Washington and saying, ‘the rich are getting much richer, I’m getting poorer, what are you going to do for my kids?’ And somebody like a Trump comes along and says, ‘I know the answers. The answer is that all of the Mexicans, they’re criminals and rapists, we’ve got to hate the Mexicans. Those are your enemies. We hate all the Muslims because all of the Muslims are terrorists. We’ve got to hate the Muslims.’ Meanwhile, the rich get richer.”

Bernie Sanders then delivered a message directly to “people who go to Donald Trump’s rallies,” telling them that Trump’s idea of a low minimum wage is a terrible idea for regular Americans and that they should not let the real issues “divide us by race or where we come from.”

The sharp attack came just after Donald Trump stuck up for Bernie Sanders (or rather used Sanders as a means to attack Clinton). After the Clinton campaign accused Sanders’ camp of stealing millions of dollars worth of voter information, the Democratic Party temporarily banned the Sanders campaign from using the voter information. The decision was later reversed, but Trump took note of Clinton’s disloyalty.

Sanders was not the only one with sharp words for Donald Trump, CNN noted. Hillary Clinton also took him on, calling him “ISIS’ best recruiter” for his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

While it seems to make strategic sense for Hillary Clinton to take on Trump — both have big leads in the polls, and barring a large shift it appears that both could very well be facing off in the general election next year — Bernie Sanders needed to put more of his focus on stopping Clinton. And he did, directly contrasting his approach and presenting himself as best for middle America.

While Clinton has topped 50 percent in all national polls and is seen as close to a lock, there are still some who see a path to victory for Bernie Sanders. FiveThirtyEight noted that Sanders still has a chance to overtake Clinton in the important Iowa caucus, and historically the polls for Iowa have not been great at predicting the winner. This could be good for the Sanders campaign, which comes in trailing Clinton by double-digit numbers.

[AP Photo/ Jim Cole]