On 'This Week,' Sanders Defends Democratic Socialism, Scandinavia | Off Message

Bernie Sanders
On 'This Week,' Sanders Defends Democratic Socialism, Scandinavia


In his inaugural appearance on the Sunday morning talk shows as a declared presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) proudly embraced his unconventional political identity. 

"Is it really possible for someone who calls himself a socialist to be elected president of the United States?" ABC News "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos asked Sanders.

"Well, so long as we know what democratic socialism is," the candidate said, arguing that the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Norway and Sweden boast higher voter turnout, better child care, cheaper education and more accessible health care than the United States.

"And in those countries, by and large, government works for ordinary people in the middle class, rather than, as is the case right now in our country, for the billionaire class," the Vermont independent concluded. 

"I can hear the Republican attack ad right now," Stephanopoulos said. "He wants America to look more like Scandinavia."

"That's right. That's right," Sanders replied. "And what's wrong with that?"

Sanders broke little news Sunday, a day after his first campaign appearances in New Hampshire. But he did reveal who might serve as his treasury secretary were he to find his way to the White House: liberal economist and former labor secretary Robert Reich. 

"I think he has been a strong progressive and understands that what we need are economic policies that benefit working families, not the big money," Sanders said.

Asked who might serve as his secretary of defense, the candidate demurred. 

"Well, little bit premature," he said. 

As he has since he began exploring a run for the presidency last year, Sanders sought not to focus on his Democratic rival, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Asked whether she was part of the "billionaire class" he was intent on fighting, Sanders said, "Hillary Clinton has been part of the political establishment for many, many years. I have known Hillary for some 25 years. I respect her and I like her."

But, he added, "Maybe it's time for [a] real political shakeup and [to] go beyond establishment politics."

Watch Sanders' full appearance here: