Sanders slams Trump during N.H. swing, shies away from any 2020 talk

  • Bernie Sanders spoke at Labor Day events in Manchester and Concord on Monday, mostly lambasting President Donald Trump. PAUL STEINHAUSER / For the Monitor

  • Bernie Sanders spoke at Labor Day events in Manchester and Concord on Monday, mostly lambasting president Donald Trump.

For the Monitor
Monday, September 04, 2017

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders used a brief visit to New Hampshire on Labor Day to fire away at President Donald Trump.

Sanders called the President “a pathological liar” and slammed Trump’s expected move to end a program that protects undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children – known as dreamers – labeling it a “very, very cruel decision.”

Sanders also touted his bill to raise the nation’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, saying he now has 31 co-sponsors, and he vowed to offer new legislation in a week and a half for a single-payer Medicare-for-all health care plan that he said “will profoundly change the United States of America.”

But the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate from Vermont, who a year and a half ago handily defeated Hillary Clinton in the Granite State’s first-in-the-nation primary, avoided any mention of whether he’ll make another bid for the White House and scolded reporters who brought up the issue.

Instead, he continued to tee off on Trump.

At the annual New Hampshire AFL-CIO Labor Day breakfast in Manchester and later at a rally in Concord, Sanders criticized the President’s expected move to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, better known by the acronym DACA, which was implemented by President Barack Obama in 2012.

“What he is proposing right now, and we think the decision may be imminent, to end the DACA program, is one of the most cruel and ugly decisions ever made in modern history of this country by a president,” Sanders told the audience at Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Manchester.

“If Trump goes ahead with his very, very, cruel decision, our job is to go ahead and pass legislation to protect the DACA young people and to make the program permanent,” Sanders said.

Trump is expected to announce Tuesday that he’ll end the program, with a six-month delay. The move would impact the approximately 800,000 undocumented immigrants currently covered by DACA.

Sanders received loud applause from the pro-union audience as he outlined his proposal to expand government-run health care to all Americans, explaining that under his plan “when you get sick, you don’t have to worry if you can afford to go to the doctor or not.”

But he said that the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, as well as Wall Street, oppose his legislation, adding that “this is going to be a monumental struggle, and we need the help of everybody in this room.”

Sanders’s bill was co-sponsored last week by freshman Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California, and following his speech he told the Monitor that he was pleased so far with the reception his plan is receiving from Senate Democrats, adding that “We’re looking very much forward to seeing the legislation” get rolled out.

Throughout the day, Sanders continued to denounce Trump.

Sanders criticized him for breaking many of the populist promises made during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“The bad news is we have a president who is standing with the billionaire class, a president who is a pathological liar, and a president who is at war with working families all across this country,” Sanders charged.

Later, as he headlined a rally by the progressive group Rights and Democracy N.H. held in Concord’s Rollins Park, Sanders repeated many of his themes, including praise of the labor movement, and solidarity with the LGBTQ community, which he said was “shocked by Trump’s decision to deny transgender people the right to serve in our military.”

And while he didn’t mention New Hampshire Republican Gov. Chris Sununu by name, Sanders criticized the move by governors across the country for pushing legislation that he said suppresses the ability of people to vote.

“We want to make it easier for people to take part in the election process,” he said.

Sanders headlined the union breakfast for the fourth straight year, and his New Hampshire swing came just four days after a book tour stop in Iowa, which traditionally holds the first caucus in the race for the White House.

But Sanders made no mention of any presidential ambitions he may still harbor, and he criticized reporters for continuing to ask him if he’s going to run for the White House again in 2020.

Sanders was shepherded at both New Hampshire events by Kurt Ehrenberg, a political adviser and organizer who two years ago set up Sanders’s presidential campaign in the Granite State.

Ehrenberg said, “It’s much too early to read anything into a couple of trips to some early states. He’s not the only one who’s doing that. He still has to get re-elected as U.S. senator from Vermont, so we’ll see what happens after that.”

But Ehrenberg added: “There’s something to be said about keeping the door open. I think that’s what’s happening.”

Sanders wasn’t the only potential 2020 presidential candidate in New Hampshire on Monday. Former Missouri secretary of state Jason Kander spoke at a Labor Day barbecue organized by the Amherst Democrats. It was Kander’s third visit already this year to the Granite State by Missouri’s 2016 Democratic Senate nominee and the founder and president of Let America Vote, a newly-created voting rights organization. Kander returns to the state Sept. 16 to co-headline the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s annual convention.

Other possible 2020 Democratic presidential contenders who have already visited New Hampshire this year include former vice president Joe Biden, former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Congressman John Delaney of Maryland.