Taking a cue from his top rival, Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said this afternoon he would do “everything” he could to fight “xenophobic” and “racist rhetoric” from the Republican front-runner, Donald Trump.
“I intend as a United States senator and as a candidate for president of the United States to do everything I can in every way to combat xenophobia and racist rhetoric coming from Donald Trump and others,” Mr. Sanders said via teleconference at the National Immigrant Integration Conference in Brooklyn.
“This country has struggled throughout its history with racism but we have come too far to retreat into these ugly and horrific sentiments regarding Latinos, regarding Muslims and regarding other minorities,” he added.
Mr. Sanders spoke to the immigration conference on the same day as former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, the third candidate in the Democratic primary, and a day after Ms. Clinton, who ripped into Mr. Trump, leading the GOP in the national polls, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a top contender who is Hispanic.
The Democratic candidates have all harshly condemned Mr. Trump, who was accused of hate speech after calling for a moratorium on Muslim immigration. Mr. Trump has repeatedly angered Latinos for his bombastic criticisms of illegal immigration and his calls for stronger border protections.
Mr. Sanders touted his support for immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants here and even for the parents of children born in the United States. Most of the Republican candidates, responding to the anger grassroots conservatives feel toward immigrants who came here illegally, have struck a very different tone.
Latinos make up an increasingly large share of the Democratic primary electorate. If Mr. Sanders hopes to defeat Ms. Clinton, a tall order by any measure, he will need to court Latinos in early voting states like Nevada.
Taking a subtle dig at Ms. Clinton, and alluding to protesters who disrupted her speech yesterday, Mr. Sanders said he was proud to reject support from super PACs and donations from the private prison industry.
Disclosure: Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of Donald Trump, is the publisher of Observer media.