Bernie to Hillary After Economics Speech: ‘I Look Forward to Issue-Oriented Debate’

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Remaining cordial toward his Democratic rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said he looks forward to an “issue-oriented debate” with Hillary Clinton following her address on economics earlier today.

“We need policies now which help the disappearing middle class, not just the millionaires and billionaires,” Mr. Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said in a statement. “It is time to take on Wall Street, take on corporate America and create an economy that works for all Americans and not just the very wealthy.”

“I welcome Secretary Clinton’s discussion of the economy and look forward to an issue-oriented debate as to which set of policies will best represent the working families of our country,” he added.

Mr. Sanders is an underdog in the contest against Ms. Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president. Though he has raised far less money than the former secretary of state and faces a daunting path to the nomination, his campaign is clearly gaining momentum. He routinely garners standing room-only crowds at events and is nipping at Ms. Clinton’s heels in various Iowa and New Hampshire polls.

Ms. Clinton has been trying to win over liberals with progressive, if vague, positions on issues of domestic policy. In a speech at The New School today, she criticized Wall Street and called for corporations to share more of their profits with employees.

“The evidence is in. Inequality is a drag on our economy,” she said.

Mr. Sanders and Ms. Clinton aren’t far apart on many issues, though the self-identified socialist is a more aggressive critic of capitalism. He has opposed free-trade agreements that Ms. Clinton backed, called explicitly for a $15 minimum wage and a single-payer, Medicare-for-all healthcare system. Ms. Clinton, a former senator who worked closely with New York’s financial industry, has drawn some skepticism from liberal activists.

Advisers to Mr. Sanders have said that he does not expect to overtly attack Ms. Clinton. He despises negative campaigning and credits his political success in Vermont to avoiding attack ads.

Bernie to Hillary After Economics Speech: ‘I Look Forward to Issue-Oriented Debate’