Sen. Bernie Sanders campaigning Saturday in Gary, Indiana
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) doesn’t think much of George W. Bush. “His views were pretty different from mine,” Sanders said Saturday morning in Gary, Indiana. But during a campaign stop in this Upper Midwest city, the senator sounded a wistful note about the 43rd president.
“Do you remember what he did after 9/11? Does anyone remember?” he asked a few dozen community leaders at a downtown Gary convention center. “He went to a mosque. Do you remember that? He walked into a mosque to say that criminals, terrorists attacked the United States — not the Muslim community.”
But now, Sanders continued, “We have a president who, for cheap political gain, is trying to divide us up by the color of our skin, by where we were born, by our religion. My God.”
Sanders, it seemed, was referring to a video Trump shared on Twitter the day before attacking Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) for remarks she made about the terrorist strikes of September 11, 2001. The video features graphic images of the attacks spliced together with footage from a speech Omar delivered last month on civil rights. It takes her words out of context to suggest that she was dismissing 9/11 as nothing more than “some people did something.”
Sanders was among the first presidential candidates to rally to the defense of Omar, who is Muslim. In his own Twitter post Friday, Sanders called Omar “a leader with strength and courage.”
“She won’t back down to Trump’s racism and hate, and neither will we,” he wrote. “The disgusting and dangerous attacks against her must end.”
Sanders’ visit to Gary came on the second day of a five-state campaign swing through Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. In his first few stops, he repeatedly referred to Trump, who won all five states in 2016, as a “pathological liar.”
“He lies almost every day. The media has documented thousands of lies that he has told,” Sanders said in Gary. The president, he added, “is a racist and a sexist and a homophobe and a xenophobe.”
Sanders took a handful of questions from the news media in Gary, including one about his newfound wealth. A reporter asked whether his status as a millionaire — thanks to a book deal that followed his 2016 presidential run — conflicted with his criticism of the rich.
“I don’t think so. I didn’t know it was a crime to write a good book, which turned out to be a bestseller,” he said. “My view has always been that we need a progressive tax system, which demands that the wealthiest people in this country start paying their fair share of taxes. If I make a lot of money, you make a lot of money, that is what I believe. So I don’t apologize for writing a book that was No. 3 on the New York Times bestseller [list], translated into five or six languages.”