WASHINGTON.- Despite a shortfall in the number of delegates, Bernie Sanders said Tuesday that he is confident about his victory at the polls, defended his record among Latinos and accused his rival, Hillary Clinton, of avoiding explanations about her ties with Wall Street.
In an exclusive interview with this La Opinión, the day states like Michigan and Mississippi were at stake, Sanders recalled that when he launched his candidacy in 2015, he began from the bottom in the polls but, to date, he has won eight primaries or caucuses.
“We feel very well with our message of fighting a rigged economy, in which the rich get richer and the rest of the people get poorer. Our message against a corrupt system of campaign and the urgency of comprehensive immigration reform is resonating across the country,” Sanders said.
Defending his record among Latinos
The 74 year-old independent senator from Vermont, waylaid Clinton’s supporters attacks — including a phone call from journalists — about his vote against immigration reform in 2007 and, that he has, usually, been absent from the concerns of the Latino community.
In that call, the Democrat lawmaker from Illinois, Luis Gutierrez, emphasized the vote for the 2007 immigration reform, and accused Sanders of “being on the wrong team.”
Sanders said in the past that he voted against it because it included a malicious program of “guest workers” that would worsen the situation of migrant workers and other Americans.
“Mr. Gutierrez is part of (Mayor) Rahm Emanuel’s political machine in Chicago, where they opposed Chuy Garcia (a Mexican-American candidate),” said Sanders.
“I’ll let the Latino community decide who has a stronger voice to represent them: Chuy Garcia, who faced the political establishment, or Mr. Gutierrez, who is part of Rahm Emanuel ‘s machine in Chicago,” he said.
Also, Sanders said his agenda includes a reform of the immigration system, to take “out of the shadows” the 11 million undocumented immigrants and offer them a path to citizenship, and change the criminal justice system affecting minorities.
“If Congress does not do its work and does not approve a comprehensive immigration reform, I will use the executive powers of the presidency to do everything you can, taking up (the immigration reliefs) and moving forward,” he promised.
An exercise of additions and subtractions
Sanders gave no hint of losing sleep over its deficit in the number – so far he has 499 and they need 2,383 delegates to get the Democrat presidential nomination — and he highlighted a survey that has reduced Clinton’s lead to just seven points.
“We are doing very well with the Latino youth … let’s focus on all voters too,” he said.
A national survey released today by The Washington/ABC News noted that among Democrats, Clinton continues to outpace Sanders but his margin is the narrowest since he launched his candidacy last year. Now, Clinton has the support of 49% of registered Democrats and independents, while Sanders has 42%. In January, the lead was 19 points.
A message for the people
While acknowledging that he must work harder to win the vote of African Americans, Sanders said he was confident that his message about the urgency of raising the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour; to reform the campaign financing system and to combat racial and economic inequalities will end leaving a mark among the electorate.
He also stressed the need to inject more investment in national infrastructure that is “declining” to create 13 million jobs and thus, strengthen the middle class and young people.
“I think we have a chance to win and we will do very well in the weeks and months ahead, especially in the West Coast. We are in this to win and I think we are doing well … because people want a change and they do not believe that neither the political establishment nor the economy are going to achieve it, “he said.
Clinton and her ties with Wall Street
51% of Wall Street executives making over $500,000 a year said it was likely their competitors engage in unethical or illegal activity.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) March 15, 2016
Sanders expressed frustration with the way the Clinton’s campaign and her supporters “manipulate” information, or misrepresent their positions, especially for their platform’s “progressive” topics.
In that sense, Sanders reiterated his suggestion that Clinton is in the pocket of Wall Street corporations and special interest groups, as he did during the debate in Flint (Michigan) last Sunday.
“Clinton’s people do a lot of manipulation; they turn night into day, and vice versa … but escaping from the fact that in Michigan and across the U.S., Hillary Clinton’s support to disastrous trade agreements has caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs and has led to a race to the bottom,” he argued.
He also listed the issues that, in his opinion, Clinton evades: the $15 million that the Super PAC that supports her has received from Wall Street; the speeches she gave on Wall Street and those where she received $225,000 each, and her vote to favor of war in Iraq, which “is one of the worst mistakes in foreign policy in the modern history of our country.”
Sanders recalled that his campaign has not accepted a penny from corporations but, instead, has received five million individual contributions averaging $27.
It also came ahead of criticism that, during the tense debate in Flint, he told Clinton, condescendingly, to be quiet.
“During the debate, Hillary Clinton had spent her time limit out of the time allowed, and when I was talking, she interrupted me, I was not the one who interrupted her. I think it is simply rude to interrupt someone else and if I said please do not interrupt me, I do not think I was rude,” he argued.
In recent days, Sanders’s campaign has had to defend his vote in 2009 against a rescue package for the auto industry, because it was included in a legislation called “TARP” to bail out Wall Street.
It was not, as Clinton suggests, one vote against auto workers but to demand greater controls on the financial sector and Sanders did vote for the bailout of the industry in other legislation, his campaign says.
A fight to the end
Clinton has 1,130 delegates and she only needs 1,253 more to clinch the presidential nomination, but Senator Sanders’s supporters and donors urge the self-styled “democratic socialist” Senator not to give up.
His supporters say that, although Sanders nomination fails, the goal is that the senator from Vermont, who started as a stranger, leaves a mark on the race and help redefine the “progressive” agenda of the Democratic Party.