Sanders shrugs off suggestion he's too extreme to beat Trump

During Tuesday night’s Democratic debate in Detroit, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders dismissed an attack from former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who said the self-described democratic socialist is too extreme to defeat President Trump in 2020.

Hickenlooper said Sanders’s policies, including Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, would be a “disaster at the ballot box.”

“You might as well FedEx the election to Donald Trump,” Hickenlooper said when asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper if Sanders’s embrace of the “democratic socialist” label makes him unelectable. “Donald Trump is malpractice personified.”

Sanders pointed out that he’s leading Trump in polls of their theoretical 2020 matchup.

“Every credible poll that I have seen has me beating Donald Trump,” Sanders said.

From left, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, John Hickenlooper
From left, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, John Hickenlooper (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

According to a Fox News poll released last week, Sanders leads Trump by 6 points (46 percent to 40 percent) among registered voters. The same poll had Sanders in second place (with 15 percent) behind former Vice President Joe Biden in the race for the Democratic nomination.

Hickenlooper, who is polling at just 2 percent in the Fox News poll, told Sanders, “if we’re going to make radical changes” that his policies propose, voters “are not going to do it.”

Sanders seemed to throw his hands up in exasperation.

“Throw your hands up,” Hickenlooper said.

“I will,” the Vermont senator said.

For months, Trump has tried to paint the 2020 Democratic presidential field as “far-left radicals” pushing a radical socialist agenda.

“Some of these people are stone-cold crazy,” Trump said in a speech in May. “They’re promoting the biggest socialist takeover in the history, really, of the world. Because, if you think, I mean, this is the United States.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper
Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Paul Sancya/AP)

Speaking in Washington, D.C., last month, Sanders sought to define his brand of democratic socialism as a continuation of FDR’s New Deal.

“Over 80 years ago Franklin Delano Roosevelt helped create a government that made transformative progress in protecting the needs of working families,” Sanders said. “Today, in the second decade of the 21st century, we must take up the unfinished business of the New Deal and carry it to completion. This is the unfinished business of the Democratic Party and the vision we together must accomplish.”

“It means committing ourselves to protecting political rights,” he continued, “to protecting civil rights, and to protect economic rights for all of the people in our country.”


Download the Yahoo News app to customize your experience.

Read more debate coverage from Yahoo News: