On the eve of New Hampshire’s primary day, CNN’s New Day co-host John Berman interviewed Granite State congressional candidate Levi Sanders and, in addition to inquiring about why his socialist father Bernie hasn’t endorsed him, but he asked him to state what the President has done well and Sanders struggled to answer.
After first asking about why his father hasn’t endorsed him and where he differs from him, Berman posed a simple question: “What has President Trump done well?”
Sanders replied by restating the question and then stumbling around that more or less amounted to the dismissal of it:
What has Trump done well? President Trump, in my opinion, you know, we — that's really something — I don't think that's really an important question to ask. Right now, to what I would say to you is that it's very important that we become less divisive. What I can tell you is that I think we can work with Donald Trump on the issue of infrastructure.
Based on Berman’s facial expressions while Sanders spoke, it was clear he’d offer a follow-up underlining the importance of the question:
Well, I mean, I do think it's an important question to ask what he has done well. If you are going to criticize someone, you need to assess the full picture saying this has gone well, this hasn't gone well, these are the areas that need to be improved upon. It's not a totally irrelevant question especially to the voters in the first district where, as you said, Donald Trump did well there.
Sanders suddenly seemed like he understood the question, but his response about what the Trump presidency has done well is that it’s “got[ten] people motivated about politics” because “the economy is not going well, based on when I talk to folks, whether they are conservative as well as Democrats in district one.”
The interview ended with Berman again highlighting the family ties and what Levi would do if Bernie called to offer his endorsement. Sanders eventually admitted that he “would definitely accept an endorsement by anybody by those means” but only after restating (for at least the third time) his talking points about a $15 minimum wage, free public higher education, equal pay, and free paid leave.
To see the relevant transcript from CNN’s New Day on September 10, click “expand.”
CNN’s New Day
September 10, 2018
8:18 a.m. Eastern
JOHN BERMAN: A self proclaimed Progressive, Levi Sanders is one of 11 Democrats running in the New Hampshire 1st congressional district primary tomorrow. While his agenda is similar to that of his father's, Senator Bernie Sanders, he has not earned his father's endorsement. Levi Sanders joins me now. Of course, big primary day tomorrow. Thanks so much for being with us. As we noted, this is an 11-candidate field. This is a tough race and it's very close. Wouldn't your father's endorsement help?
LEVI SANDERS: John, first of all, thank you very much for helping me. My father and I don't believe in dynastic politics, but we do believe in Medicare for all, tuition-free public colleges and universities, paid equity for women, paid family and medical leave, a $15 minimum wage and dealing with income and wealth inequality. John, 47 percent of Americans right now have $400 or less to deal with a medical emergency or simply their car breaking down.
BERMAN: You don’t have to believe —
SANDERS: I do have the endorsement —
BERMAN: Go ahead.
SANDERS: I'm sorry. I do have the endorsement of Ro Khana, who’s doing a really great job in Congress. He’s doing incredible work in terms of the medicare for all caucus as well as Phil Murphy, as well as a whole host of other folks.
BERMAN: Well, what I was going to say is —
SANDERS: So I feel very, very good about those endorsements.
BERMAN: — what I was going to say is you don't have to believe in dynastic politics to say that I think Mr. X or Ms. Y is the best candidate for that seat and your father hasn't even said — Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has not said that.
SANDERS: John, what I can tell you is. I am very, very proud of the folks that have endorsed me. What's most important to understand is what Bernard Sanders has talked about is now mainstream, A $15 minimum wage, Medicare for all. So what I can tell you, I continue to talk to folks in New Hampshire and I hear from them. They talk about those issues.
BERMAN: You are not your father. He is a politician from Vermont. You want to be a politician from New Hampshire. However, you did cite his politics. Is there anywhere politically that you differ from your father?
SANDERS: Again, I would say that what we do is not really about differing. It's about what do we have in common? What the vast majority of Americans have in common. John, right now, we have 70 percent of the American public who believes in a medicare for all, single payer health care system. We have 85 percent of Democrats and even 52 percent of Republicans.
BERMAN: You, your father actually appeal to many of the same voters as now President Donald Trump. Some of that voters in the district of New Hampshire, if you're going to win, you'll have to appeal to those Trump voters. How would you assess his performance as President and how are you going to win those voters over? How will you be different?
SANDERS: Different. First, as you know, that’s a very, very good point. Right now, it's a plus two Trump district. The way I'm going to win these voters over is what I've been talking about throughout the campaign, a $15 minimum wage, Medicare for all. Again, when I talk to folks, whether they’re Democrats or Republicans, particularly 52 percent of Republicans support a Medicare for all health care system. They, too, have high co-payments, deductibles as well as premiums.
BERMAN: What has President Trump done well?
SANDERS: What has Trump done well? President Trump, in my opinion, you know, we — that's really something — I don't think that's really an important question to ask. Right now, to what I would say to you is that it's very important that we become less divisive. What I can tell you is that I think we can work with Donald Trump on the issue of infrastructure.
BERMAN: Well, I mean, I do think it's an important question to ask what he has done well. If you are going to criticize someone, you need to assess the full picture saying this has gone well, this hasn't gone well, these are the areas that need to be improved upon. It's not a totally irrelevant question especially to the voters in the first district where, as you said, Donald Trump did well there.
SANDERS: Okay. Alright. So what I would say to you very clearly is that what Donald Trump has done well, based on talking to folks who are Trump supporters, is what he has done is he has got people motivated about politics. So whether you're a Democrat or Republican, right now, we have probably 10 to 15 percent of folks who are going to vote in this primary. What I can tell you, whether it's Donald Trump or other folks in the Democratic Party, the goal is to bring people together. So, that's what I would say when I hear from folks. I can tell you very clearly, the economy is not going well, based on when I talk to folks, whether they are conservative as well as Democrats in district one. We have a $7.25 federal minimum wage. If you work 40 hours a week, you should not be living in poverty.
BERMAN: Finally, I know you say your family does not believe in dynastic politics. If I told you right now I had Senator Bernie Sanders on the line and he wants to endorse you in your candidacy for congress, would you accept that endorsement?
SANDERS: John, I am just concentrating on ensuring that we have a Medicare for all, single payer health care, tuition free public colleges and universities. I have tremendous endorsements from a whole host of folks. At this point in time, I will accept an endorsement for anybody who believes a Medicare for all health care system, who believes tuition free colleges and universities, paid equity for women, paid family and medical leave, a $15 minimum wage. So, of course, I would definitely accept an endorsement by anybody by those means.
BERMAN: Alright, Levi Sanders, thank you again for joining us, talking about a range of subjects. Crowded field tomorrow. A big race. We wish you the best of luck, sir.
SANDERS: Thank you so much.
ALISYN CAMEROTA: Do you have Senator Bernie Sanders on the phone? Is this a big reval?
BERMAN: I don't and I don’t and he knew that I didn't. Because he knows -- this is something that they've discussed and knows this is an issue, but I do think it was interesting to have him say I would accept it if offered.
CAMEROTA: I think that’s interesting. I also thought you were going to like, “caller?” But that was Phil Donohue.
BERMAN: No, I didn’t.