Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump invaded Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ home turf of Burlington Thursday evening to rally conservative supporters and make a wisecrack about Sanders’ long-shot campaign for the Democratic nomination.
Trump at one point gleefully recalled that Sanders allowed two Black Lives Matter activists to interrupt him during a public appearance and take control of the microphone. “Oh, would I love to run against Bernie,” Trump said, while a crowd of well over 1,400 cheered. “It would be a dream come true.”
But before the night was out, the high flying Trump got another taste of “The Bern.” Sanders, the former Burlington mayor, once again lashed out at Trump as a “pathological liar” and a political handmaiden to millionaires and billionaires like himself.”
Noting that he does better in hypothetical general election matchups with Trump than Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton, Sanders responded to Trump in a conference call with members of the progressive Democracy for America that it “would be a dream come true for me as well” and that “I would love, love, love to run against Donald Trump.”
“It's not just this man's arrogance,” Sanders said in describing Trump’s vulnerability in a general election campaign. “It's not just his bigotry. It's not just the demagoguery that he expresses in trying to divide us up -- telling us that Latinos that are coming into this country from Mexico are rapists, criminals, and drug dealers. Or his anti-Muslim tirades. It’s that this is a guy…who thinks that a $7.25 minimum wage is just fine, we don't have to raise the minimum wage. In a Republican debate, he said that, 'Well, wages in America are just too high.' Well, that's a great shock to millions of people trying to get by on $10 an hour.”
Sanders unloaded on Trump last night in a way that Hillary Clinton may not be able to do for a while because of Trump’s effective exploitation of former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment proceedings and past sex scandals.
Hillary Clinton leads Sanders roughly 2 to 1 in recent national polls, although her lead is much smaller in Iowa and New Hampshire. Nonetheless, Sanders raised considerable campaign contributions last year ($73 million to Clinton’s $112 million) and he continues to draw large crowds of enthusiastic supporters.
According to a Dec. 22 Quinnipiac University poll, if the general election were held today, Sanders would beat Trump by 13 points, 51 percent to 38 percent, while Clinton would top Trump by just seven points, 47 percent to 40 percent.
“I think we would stand a chance of beating him by more,” Sanders told his supporters last night.
“This is a guy who thinks that climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese in order to impact American manufacturing,” Sanders said. “Where he comes up with these ideas, I have no idea, but every other day there is one or another absurd idea.”
“And I have to also say – and I don’t like saying this about people, you know there are people who disagree with me that I respect, there are conservatives that I regard as friends,” he added. “But this guy, I have to say, really is a pathological liar. He just says things that are outrageous – that have no basis in fact.”