Sen. Bernie Sanders said Tuesday that he wishes he had the chance to run against President-elect Donald Trump.
In an interview on “Conan,” the Vermont senator said that although he was unsure if he would have defeated Trump, early hypothetical head-to-head matchups showed him far ahead.
“What the polling showed that early on was all the polls nationally and statewide, I was beating him by much large margins, much more than Secretary Clinton, but you know, then you go through a three-month campaign,” Sanders told host Conan O’Brien.
“All I can tell you Conan: I wish to God I’d had the opportunity. I would have loved to have run against him,” he added.
During his appearance Tuesday night, Sanders also ruminated on the nature of Trump’s win. He suggested that although Trump used rhetoric to inflame racial and ethnic tensions, he successfully branded himself as an outsider who could relate to many voters’ frustration with established industries.
“What Trump managed to do was convince people that he was the anti-establishment candidate at the time when people really are not happy with the economic establishment, the political establishment, and the media establishment,” Sanders said. “I think, sadly, much of what he said will not be true, he will not keep his word.”
He added: “Not everyone who voted for Trump is a racist or a sexist or a homophobe. There are a lot of people who are hurting very badly. They saw him as a glimmer of hope. That’s why they voted for him.”
Now a prominent member of Senate Democratic leadership, Sanders has emerged as a vocal critic of the forces that shape the electoral process that allowed Trump to win the general election.
Appearing on CNN earlier this week, Sanders called for the Electoral College to be “reexamined.” He also became one of the first prominent politicians to endorse Rep. Keith Ellison for chair of the Democratic National Committee in order to “take on the political establishment and billionaire class.”
The Vermont senator’s appearance on Conan came just days after he lamented that it was “a bit strange” he had to appear on late-night comedy shows “in order to have five minutes to talk about serious issues.”
“What does that say about American political culture, that you have to go on a comedy show? I’m old-fashioned, and I think that politics and public policy are serious issues that need serious discussion, and as a nation I think we need a revolution in media,” Sanders told GQ.
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