CNN’s Jake Tapper pressed Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday on whether his calls for political “revolution” to remake the American economic system could be misinterpreted as a call for violence.
“You have been speaking the language of revolution for many years,” Tapper said, after noting Sanders’ repeated condemnations of violence. “Are you concerned that some individuals are able to take your rhetoric as a literal call to arms?”
Sanders responded that he thinks “there’s sometimes rhetoric on all sides that are not quite acceptable.”
The Vermont senator invoked nonviolent protesters who called for revolutionary changes to American economic and social justice systems like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and argued that Americans should protest and be outraged by the Republican healthcare bill and President Donald Trump’s proposed budget.
“I think this is a moment where the American people have got to stand up, fight back to a Congress which is out of touch with where working families are,” Sanders said. “But it goes without saying that violence is not part of that process.”
Last week, Sanders denounced a former volunteer for his campaign who shot Rep. Steve Scalise and several staffers and law enforcement officers at a Republican congressional baseball practice.
Tapper also asked how Sanders reacted “on a human level” to the news that the shooter was a supporter of his.
Sanders responded by emphasizing that nearly all of his supporters are nonviolent, saying that even his rallies in the “poorest communities” didn’t see violence.
“Let me just say this: in our campaign, we had hundreds of thousands of volunteers,” Sanders said. “We had rallies that spoke in person to over 1.4 million people, we had rallies in some of the poorest communities of states, I remember in the South Bronx, there was zero violence. No violence at all. And I am absolutely convinced that the overwhelming, not overwhelming, virtually all people associated with our political movement understand you have the right to stand up, debate, you have the right to protest, but violence is not acceptable.”
Sanders then said that it was “distressing” to find out that the shooter, 66-year-old James Hodgkinson, volunteered for his campaign.
Watch the clip via CNN: