Bernie Bits: Sanders Chats Up Pope Francis | Off Message

Bernie Sanders
Bernie Bits: Sanders Chats Up Pope Francis


Throughout Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) whirlwind trip to Rome this week, Vatican officials downplayed the chances that Pope Francis would grant the Democratic presidential candidate an audience. 

Then came a little divine intervention. 

Shortly before leaving for Greece Saturday morning, the pontiff met with Sanders in the foyer of the papal residence, according to the Associated Press. The meeting lasted around five minutes.

"It was a real honor for me, for my wife and I to spend some time with him. I think he is one of the extraordinary figures not only in the world today but in modern world history," Sanders told the AP before boarding a chartered jet to return to the campaign trail. 

In a separate interview with CBS News, Sanders said no photographs were taken of the meeting because neither party wanted the confab to appear political in nature. The Vatican is typically loath to interfere in electoral politics, though Pope Francis has been known to buck protocol.

"If I was really being political, I'd be in New York City right now and not in Rome," Sanders told CBS. "For me, the issues that the pope is talking about are issues that I've been talking about for many, many years."

Sanders' 40-hour trip to Rome — sandwiched between a Thursday night debate with rival Hillary Clinton and a planned Saturday night roundtable with Rev. Al Sharpton — came just days before New York's Tuesday primary. The latest polls show Sanders trailing Clinton in the state by anywhere from 10 to 17 percentage points. 

During his flight back to New York, the Vermont senator appeared to downplay his chances there in an interview with the Washington Post. He pointed out that the state does not allow same-day registration and prohibits independents from taking part. 

"Uh, we got a shot," he said. "It's gonna be tough for us, not just because Clinton has won two elections there, but because of the nature of the voting rules."

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