Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said that if he and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton both wound up competing for the presidency, he would want them to have a serious debate about issues such as income inequality.
In remarks at the National Press Club
in Washington on Monday, Sanders described Clinton as "a remarkable woman with an extraordinary history of public service." He added, "It would not be my job to run against her. It would be my job, if she ran and if I ran, to debate the serious issues facing our country," USA Today
The senator, who was born in Brooklyn in 1941 to Polish immigrant parents, describes himself
as a democratic socialist. He ran as an independent and caucuses with the Democrats.
He is expected to declare whether he will launch a presidential campaign and under what banner this month. If he does seek the presidency, he promised not to run "against" other candidates or put out negative campaign commercials.
Sanders said he wants "civil, intelligent debates" that address issues such as "grotesque" income inequality and the need to reduce dependency on fossil fuels.
"Not more political gossip of who's winning today and who's losing, who slipped on a banana peel, who said something particularly stupid," he told a lunchtime press club audience. "I'm sure I did today."
Sanders said President Barack Obama should have gone over the heads of Republicans in Congress to mobilize the grass roots against the "billionaire class" and the "1 percent."
He said, "Any serious president that wants to represent working families has to mobilize people all over this country to make the Congress an offer they can't refuse."
Sanders said he backs a $15 an hour minimum wage instead of the current "starvation" wage of $7.25. He would push for pay equity legislation for women, block corporations from parking assets overseas, expand Social Security, and work to make healthcare a "right," according to USA Today.
On foreign policy, he would do his best to keep the U.S. out of the "never-ending wars in the quagmire of the Middle East." He said it was up to the Arab countries — with the U.S. in a supporting role only — to be in the vanguard against the Islamic State group.
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