Politics

Sanders: ‘Damn Right’ Tester and Manchin Will Vote for My Socialist Agenda

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) was adamant that moderate Democratic senators such as Jon Tester (D., Mont.) and Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) would vote for his socialist agenda.

CNBC's John Harwood pressed the presidential candidate, who has called for a political "revolution," on whether he would be able to win over his Senate party mates from red states, such as Montana and West Virginia. Sanders insisted that his election to the White House would unite members of the Democratic base to pressure those with more conservative voting records.

"Is Joe Manchin going to vote for your program? Is Jon Tester going to vote for your program?" Harwood asked.

"Yeah. Damn right they will," the self-proclaimed Democratic socialist said.

Sanders added that the two senators are friends of his and that he would rally working people at the state level to hold fellow Democrats accountable if they do not support his agenda.

"Look, what happens right now is your average politician sits around and he or she thinks, ‘Let's see, if I do this I'm going to have the big money interest putting 30 second ads against me. So I better not do it,'" Sanders said. "But now they're going to have to think, ‘If I don't support an agenda for working people, I'm going to have President Sanders come into my state and rally working class people.'"

Sanders has made Medicare for All and expanding government programs and benefits the focus of his presidential campaign. According to his own estimates, Medicare for All would cost $40 trillion over 10 years. Critics of the proposal have questioned how Sanders plans to pay for the government-run system. Washington Examiner executive editor Philip Klein noted that if the government confiscated the wealth of every billionaire in the country, it would still not be able to pay for three average years of Medicare for All.

Tester and Manchin have not signed on as co-sponsors of Sanders's Medicare for All legislation in the Senate. Tester has expressed interest in implementing a single-payer system, while Manchin has dismissed it because of the cost associated with the proposal. Both of the senators hail from states in which President Donald Trump won by double digits in 2016.