Bernie Sanders, making his first appearance on a late-night talk show since launching his presidential campaign, told “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” on Friday that Donald Trump is “appealing to the baser instincts among us, xenophobia and, frankly, racism.”
Sanders rejected comparisons of his populist-driven campaign as a Democratic counterpart to that of Trump’s effort, which he called “disgraceful.”
“What I am talking about is a vision which goes beyond telling us we have to hate a group of people,” Sanders said.
Sanders was introduced by Colbert as “the Democratic frontrunner in New Hampshire and Iowa” — a reference to recent polls showing him leading Hillary Clinton. The audience chanted “Bernie!” as he took his seat and gave Colbert a “Feel the Bern” campaign mug. Colbert poured his coffee into the new mug.
Asked by Colbert about his campaign’s unexpected success, Sanders said, “I knew that we had a message that would resonate with the American people.”
“Clearly we want a society which encourages entrepreneurship and innovation,” Sanders added. “But what we also want is a society in which all of our people can enjoy a decent standard of living and not a society in which the very rich get much richer while virtually everybody else gets poorer.”
Colbert quipped earlier in the show that “Bernie Sanders is a self-described socialist, which is awkward for me because this show is brought to you by capitalism.”
When interviewing Sanders, Colbert asked him why he didn’t accept the terms “socialist” and “liberal” “as the insults they were meant to be.”
Laughing, Sanders said, “I prefer the term, actually, to be a progressive.”
Sanders stuck to the themes of his stump speech, telling Colbert that “radical idea though it may be, should actually represent working people and the middle class rather than large campaign donors.”
He also said that he does “almost as well” as Clinton when matched up against Republicans, and suggested that his bid “would result in very, very large voter turnouts” in a general election.
When Colbert asked whether Sanders would be handicapped because he did not have a SuperPAC, Sanders responded, “I don’t support the agenda of corporate America or the billionaire class. I don’t want their money.”
In the 2012 cycle, just as SuperPACs were emerging as a major influence in presidential campaigns, Colbert created his own SuperPAC, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, to skewer campaign spending and ads.
Colbert tweeted out a comic video bit they did with Sanders, and the campaign tweeted, “Enjoy your #FeelTheBern mug! Caution: contents may cause a political revolution.”