Why Sen. Jeff Merkley Still Supports Bernie Sanders
Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson talks with Sen. Jeff Merkley, the only senator who is backing Bernie Sanders in the presidential primaries. Merkley admits that “the mathematical path is very very uphill” for Sanders. But he says Sanders is bringing important issues to the table.
Interview Highlights: Jeff Merkley
How much longer should Senator Sanders stay in the race?
“Absolutely through the California primary. Folks across the country want to weigh in on the direction of our country and an effective way of doing so is their vote in the Democratic primary.”
Does he still have a chance to be the nominee for the Democratic Party?
“Well, the mathematical path is very uphill, very narrow. He’s said the same, but the conversation is energizing the party and it’s causing us all to think about the big problems our nation faces and whether just keeping little tweaks to the existing paradigm is going to address our problems or we need to have a substantial rethinking of the fundamentals, which I think is what Bernie’s campaign represents.”
Should Sanders be concerned that his attacks could hurt Senator Clinton in the general election if she becomes the nominee?
“I think, actually, by raising these issues that resonate with voters is going to increase the energy that’s taken into the general election. This does require that both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders build a bridge towards each other, build a bridge between their campaigns after the California primary so that we can go into the convention, locked arm in arm. I hope that part of building that bridge will be to have a very strong vision that the winner will advocate for regarding campaign finance reform.”
Should Clinton, if she became the nominee, incorporate Sanders into the ticket or her cabinet?
“Well, I won’t give her advice on that. I don’t think though that he’s aspiring to a cabinet post. He’s looking, as Larry Cohen’s put it, ‘not for a moment, but for a movement.’ That we have to take on trade agreements, like the upcoming TPP, Trans-Pacific Partnership, which essentially put us on an unleveled playing field. Everyone can understand that if you’re competing against folks earning $1 and hour, the manufacturer’s going to move to that country, the country with low labor standards, low pay, low environmental standards and low enforcement and that we’ve seen it time and time again.
We saw it with Mexico after NAFTA. We saw it with China after the WTO and certainly if we want to have four more decades in which the middle class is absolutely unable to get ahead, then we should pass the TPP. We need Secretary Clinton to come out and say definitively and passionately and clearly that she is going to fight for middle class jobs and that means that we are not going to extend to Malaysia and Vietnam, an open door that will invite our manufacturers that remain in America to go overseas and undermine the negotiating power of those workers that remain in our country.”
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