Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders says if he is elected president, he wouldn't make the same mistake as President Barack Obama by naively assuming that negotiating compromises with GOP lawmakers will be easy.
In his first podcast
, former Obama adviser David Axelrod introduced Sanders — who's surging in the polls
in his Democratic presidential campaign against front-runner Hillary Clinton — as "the least likely rock star in American politics."
Midway through the 49-minute interview on "The Axe Files with David Axelrod," Sanders declared that although President Barack Obama ran a "brilliant campaign" to win the White House, he mistakenly thought he could easily work with congressional Republicans.
The discussion starts at the 27:34 point.
"He thought he could walk into Capitol Hill and the Oval Office and sit down with [House Speaker] John Boehner and [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell and the Republicans and say 'I can't get it all. You can't get it all. Let's work out something that's reasonable,' because he's a reasonable guy, he's a pretty rational guy," Sanders said. "These guys never had any intention of doing [serious] negotiating and compromising.... I think it took the president too long to fully appreciate that."
Without elaborating, Sanders added that American voters who stay involved in the political process — and demand results — will help get things done in a divided Congress.
"I don't have any illusion that I'm going to walk in, and I certainly hope it is not the case but if there is a Republican House and a Republican Senate, that I'm going to walk in there and say 'Hey guys, listen. I'd like you to work with me on raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour,'" he said. "It ain't gonna happen, I have no illusion about that. The only way that I believe that change takes place … is that tens of millions of people are going to have to stand up and be involved in the political process the day after the election."
Sanders also argued with Axelrod's comparison of his strong liberal views to conservative Republicans like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who say the GOP has been too compromising on principles.
"It sounds a little like the same argument which it is better to be pure than to be pragmatic," Axelrod said.
"No, you didn't hear me say that, that's not what I said," Sanders said. "What I said is that, if you are good at politics, and you have 70 to 80 percent of the people behind you in issues like raising the minimum wage or rebuilding our infrastructure or family and medical leave....
"You should win those fights and it's not good enough to sit down with Boehner and say 'no I can't support' — 'oh, okay, guess we're not going to do it.'"
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