SANDERS: Well, it failed. I mean, the president acknowledged that. Syria is a quagmire inside of a quagmire. I think what the president has tried to do is thread a very difficult needle. And that is keep American troops from engaging in combat and getting killed there. And I think that is the right thing to do. So I think we continue to try to do everything that we can, focusing primarily on trying to defeat ISIS. But I am worried about American troops getting sucked into a never ending war in the Middle East and particularly in, you know, Iraq and Syria. I don't think the United States can or should be doi
SANDERS: I voted against NAFTA, CAFTA, PNTR with China. I think they have been a disaster for the American worker. A lot of corporations that shut down here move abroad. Working people understand that after NAFTA, CAFTA, PNTR with China we have lost millions of decent paying jobs. Since 2001, 60,000 factories in America have been shut down. We're in a race to the bottom, where our wages are going down. Is all of that attributable to trade? No. Is a lot of it? Yes. TPP was written by corporate America and the pharmaceutical industry and Wall Street. That's what this trade agreement is about. I do not want American workers to competing against people in Vietnam who make 56 cents an hour for a minimum wage.
Q: So basically, there's never been a single trade agreement this country's negotiated that you've been comfortable with?
SANDERS: That's correct.
SANDERS: I wouldn't use the word, "moderation." That's not quite the right word. This is what I do believe. I come from a state that has virtually no gun control. And yet, at political peril, I voted for an instant background check, which I want to see strengthened and expanded. I voted to ban certain types of assault weapons, which are designed only to kill people. I voted to end the so-called gun show loophole. What I think there needs to be is a dialogue. And here's what I do believe: I believe what I call common sense gun reform. Plus, a revolution in mental health, making sure that if people are having a nervous breakdown, or are suicidal, or homicidal, they get the care they need when they need it. I think the vast majority of the American people can support and agenda composed of those features.
SANDERS: All of that and more.
Q: You're okay with the drone?
SANDERS: A drone is a weapon. When it works badly, it is terrible and it is counterproductive.
Q: But you're comfortable with the idea of using drones if you think you've isolated an important terrorist? That continues?
SANDERS: Yes. And look, we all know, that there are people as of this moment plotting against the United States. We have got to be vigorous in protecting our country, no question about it.
SANDERS: This is what you do. You say to the speaker of the House, "Hey, you don't want to negotiate with me? I think we should make public colleges and universities tuition free. And I think we should pay for a tax on Wall Street speculation." Now, do I think the Republican speaker of the House will agree with me? No, I don't think so. But I think he'll have to look out the window and see a million young people demonstrating and marching in Washington.
Q: Barack Obama said this.
SANDERS: Here's the difference. The president actually thought that he could sit down with the Republican leadership and work out some fair compromises. The truth is, number one, they never had any intention to compromise. But number two, you have to be prepared to mobilize people to take on these big money interests.
SANDERS: No, not at all. When one of your Republican colleagues gets on the show, do you say, "Are you a capitalist?" Have you ever referred to them as capitalists?
Q: Yeah. Are you a capitalist?
SANDERS: No. I'm a democratic socialist.
SANDERS: I think it's impossible to give a proper number until we understand the dimensions of the problem. What I do believe is that Europe, the United States and, by the way, countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, must address this humanitarian crisis. People are leaving Iraq, they're leaving Syria with just the clothes on their backs. The world has got to respond. The United States should be part of that response.
Q: When it comes to Syria, how much of the problem is the United States' fault, of policy, whether Bush in Iraq or Obama in Syria?
SANDERS: Look, I voted against the war in Iraq; much of what I feared would happen, in fact, did happen: Massive destabilization in that region. The issue now is not who is at fault. The issue is now what we do. And what we do is bring the region together.
SANDERS: No. I voted also for the war in Afghanistan, because I believed that Osama bin Laden needed to be captured, needed to be brought to trial.
Q: Yes, sir, I apologize for that, yes, you did.
SANDERS: But I am very concerned about a lot of the war talk that I'm hearing from my Republican colleagues, who apparently have forgotten the cost of war and the errors made in Afghanistan and Iraq. And what I believe, very much, is that the most powerful military on Earth, the United States of America, that our government should do everything that we can to resolve international conflict in a way that does not require war.
SANDERS: No, I didn't have a confrontation. I was there to speak about immigration reform. And some people thought of disrupting the meeting. And the issue that they raised was, in fact, a very important issue, about Black Lives Matter, in this case of Sandra Bland, about black people getting yanked out of an automobile, thrown to the ground, and ended up dead three days later because of a minor traffic violation.
Q: Well, I guess there were some people who felt that you were being too dismissive of the protesters.
SANDERS: Well, I'm not dismissive. I've been involved in the Civil Rights movement all of my life. And I believe that we have to deal with this issue of institutional racism. But we have to deal with the reality that 50% of young black kids are unemployed. That we have massive poverty in the America, in our country, and we an unsustainable level of income and wealth inequality.
SANDERS: As a nation, we can't continue screaming at each other; we've got to find common ground.
Q: Well, what is that?
SANDERS: For a start, universal instant background checks. Nobody should have a gun who has a criminal background, who's involved in domestic abuse situations, people should not have guns who are going to hurt other people, who are unstable.
Q: In the situation in Louisiana, instant background checks didn't catch what was necessary. Instant background checks lead to more speed & more mistakes. Don't you need longer waiting periods?
SANDERS: Well, what we need to do is, whatever we need, is a system that works. Bottom line is, I hope that nobody in America disagrees that people, as in the case of the shooter in Louisiana, who has a history of mental instability, should not be having guns. People who have criminal backgrounds, people who are abusing wives, should not be having guns. That is the issue that I think we can bring people around
SANDERS: Look, this is a piece of fiction that I wrote in 1972. That was 43 years ago. It was very poorly written. And if you read it, what it was dealing with gender stereotypes, why some men like to oppress women, why other women like to be submissive. You know, something like "50 Shades of Gray," very poorly written 43 years ago. What I'm focusing on right now are the issues impacting the American people today. And that's what I will continue to focus on. And what I think the American people want to hear.
SANDERS: I may well be voting for it. It doesn't go as far as I would like it to go. I voted against the original Patriot Act, and I voted against its reauthorization. Look, we have got to be vigorous in fighting terrorism and protecting the American people. But we have to do it in a way that protects the constitutional rights of the American people. And I'm very, very worried about the invasion of privacy rights that we're seeing not only from the NSA and the government but from corporate America, as well. We're losing our privacy rights. It's a huge issue.
Q: The government is going to be asking corporate America to keep this data under the USA Freedom Act. You're comfortable with that?
SANDERS: No, I'm not. But we have to look at the best of bad situations. The question is whether the NSA keeps it, the question is whether it is transferred to the phone companies, who already keep records for an extended period of time.
The above quotations are from Meet the Press interviews during 2015|
(David Gregory interviewing candidates for 2015 and 2016 races).
Click here for other excerpts from Meet the Press interviews during 2015
(David Gregory interviewing candidates for 2015 and 2016 races).
Click here for other excerpts by Bernie Sanders.
Click here for a profile of Bernie Sanders.
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