Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is taking aim at President Donald Trump. In a new campaign advertisement, Sanders -- who is running for president as a Democrat -- is directly attacking Trump for signaling a willingness to cut popular programs such as Social Security and Medicare.
Per HuffPost, Sanders' latest ad, released on Thursday, features footage from Trump's recent interview with CNBC. During the interview, when asked whether cuts to "entitlements" would ever be "on his plate," the president responded that "at some point they will be."
The remarks were widely interpreted as the commander-in-chief suggesting that he would cut entitlements if re-elected, which the White House subsequently denied. The Sanders campaign cut these comments into the video, juxtaposing them with the senator's decades-long advocacy for social programs.
Trump's apparent openness to cutting the programs is not only being used to attack him, but also to make an argument about Sanders' electability in a potential general election matchup.
"To defeat Trump, we need a nominee who has always fought to protect Social Security," the narrator says, as footage of Sanders advocating for the entitlements flashes on screen.
The ad ends with the Vermont senator rallying against politicians open to entitlement cuts, as photos of him campaigning among seniors appear.
"We are not going to cut the program that millions of seniors and people with disabilities depend upon. If they vote to cut Social Security, they may well not be returning to Washington," Sanders says in the ad, which will air in the early states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
As HuffPost notes, in the ad, Sanders casts himself as "the most effective foil for unmasking Trump's false populism," which he has frequently done in the past, blasting Trump for "lying" on the campaign trail that he actually wants to protect and expand Social Security and similar programs.Furthermore, the ad is an implicit jab at Sanders' closest competitor in the Democratic primary race, former Vice President Joe Biden. Sanders -- who is surging in early state polls -- has spent the past few weeks attacking Biden over his past support for cuts to Social Security.
Biden now claims that he will not cut Social Security if elected president, but he has long advocated for cuts to the popular program. According to a fact-check by The Intercept, the former vice president "has advocated for cutting Social Security for 40 years," and hours of video footage of him doing just that exist.
Biden has pushed back against Sanders' attack, claiming that one of the videos being amplified by the senator's campaign is "doctored."