Vermont US Sen. Bernie Sanders said Sunday he’ll make a decision on running for president “pretty soon.”
“Making sure you have the money to run a credible campaign is very important,” he said to interviewer Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. “We’re working on it. And we will make the best decision we can in the near future.”
Sanders said he did not believe any 2016 presidential candidate from either party would battle corporate power for ordinary Americans.
“I do have doubts that Hillary Clinton or any Republican out there will take on big-money special interests,” Sanders said.
“In America, if we are going to be successful in taking on the billionaire class, we need a strong grassroots movement,” he said.
“It’s not just Hillary Clinton. It’s not a question of running against Hillary Clinton or challenging Hillary Clinton.”
Senator Sanders, welcome to "Fox News Sunday."
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Good to be with you.
WALLACE: Senator, you say that you are considering running against Hillary Clinton, among other reasons, because you doubt whether or not she's willing to take on the billionaires in America.
Here's what she said during a rollout in Iowa this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's something wrong when hedge fund managers pay lower tax rates than nurses or the truckers that I saw on I-80 as I was driving here over the last two days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Senator, don't you believe her?
SANDERS: Well, she's absolutely right. It's not a question of running against Hillary Clinton or taking on Hillary Clinton.
What we're seeing, Chris, right now is that for 40 years, the American middle class has been disappearing. Millions of people are working longer hours for lower wages despite a huge increase in technology and productivity. And what we have seen during that period is a massive transfer of trillions of dollars from the middle class to the top one-tenth of 1 percent of America -- massive wealth and income inequality, where you have 99 percent of all new income today going to the top 1 percent, and the top one-tenth of 1 percent of America --
WALLACE: But, Senator, you --
SANDERS: -- owning as much as the bottom 90 percent.
WALLACE: If I may, you told Bloomberg you had serious doubts about whether she was willing to take on the billionaire class. What are those doubts?
SANDERS: Well, that's it. Yes, but it's -- my point is, it's not just Hillary Clinton.
WALLACE: I'm asking about Hillary Clinton, though, sir.
SANDERS: The answer -- if I can, please. The answer is that I think that is the fight that we have to wage if we're to save the middle class. And I do have doubts about whether Hillary Clinton or whether any Republican candidate out there is prepared to take on the big money interests who control so much of our economy and as a result of Citizens United, our political process as well.
WALLACE: But Clinton says that she wants to be the champion of the middle class. Again, here she is in Iowa this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The deck is still stacked in favor of those already at the top. And there's something wrong with that. There's something wrong when CEOs make 300 times more than the typical worker.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: What does Senator Clinton or Secretary Clinton need to do, Senator, to persuade you that she's the one to take on this fight?
SANDERS: Well, what she said is absolutely right. I mean, I think from a moral issue, CEOs should not be making -- whether it's 270 or 300 times more than their workers are making.
But what we need to do, Chris, is to understand that in America, if we're going to be successful in taking on the billionaire class, we need a strong national grassroots movement.
What the secretary will have to convince the American people is, in fact, based on her past record and views today that she is going to break up the major banks on Wall Street. She is going to ask the wealthiest people in this country to start paying their fair share of taxes. That she's going to end the abomination of major corporations making millions of dollars, stashing their money in the Cayman Islands and not paying a nickel in income tax. That, in fact, she's prepared to deal with this -- our disastrous trade policies. The TPP --
WALLACE: Let me ask you about the trade policy because back when she was secretary of state, Clinton said she favored a trade deal with our 11 Pacific partners and fast track authority to make that happen. That's something Congress is now considering.
Now, Secretary Clinton says she wants to wait and see. Is that an issue for you, vis-a-vis Secretary Clinton?
SANDERS: Oh, Chris, that is -- Chris, you're looking at a guy who was in the House and the Senate, voted against all of these terrible trade agreements, NAFTA, CAFTA, permanent normal trades relations with China. As I'm sure you'll remember, all of the big money interests.
And, by the way, Republicans and Democrats, they say, oh, we'll create all these jobs by having a trade agreement with China. Well, the answer is, they were wrong, wrong, wrong. Over the years, we have lost millions of decent paying jobs. These trade agreements have forced wages down in America so the average worker in America today is working longer hours for lower wages.
WALLACE: So, is that a test --
SANDERS: So, I don't have to wait and see.
WALLACE: Is that a litmus test --
SANDERS: Chris, I'm against this trade --
WALLACE: Is that a litmus test for you, to see whether or not Clinton is going to come out against the TPP?
SANDERS: Well, I -- I know where my view is. I hope very much the secretary comes out against it.
I think we do not need to send more jobs to low wage countries. I think corporate America has to start investing in this country and create decent paying jobs here.
WALLACE: Let me talk to you about Bernie Sanders now, not Hillary Clinton.
You call yourself a Democratic socialist. One of the things that you favor is a single-payer health care system. But that has, in effect, fizzled in your home state. I want to talk about why.
When single-payer would have meant 11.5 percent increase in taxes on all businesses, and a 9.5 percent tax hike on individuals, the Democratic governor in Vermont dropped the plan as unfeasible. This is in your home state of Vermont. They said, we just can't afford the single-payer.
SANDERS: Let's take a look at what's going on around the world in terms of health care.
WALLACE: Sir, if I may -- if I may, sir, I'm asking about a specific question of Vermont.
SANDERS: Sure. And the answer is --
WALLACE: They had a plan to impose a single -- or implement a single-payer health care system in Vermont and the Democratic governor ended up dropping it.
SANDERS: Well, for a variety of reasons he did. But the United States remains the only major country on earth that doesn't guarantee health care to all of our people. And yet we are spending almost twice as much per capita. We have a massively dysfunctional health care system. And I do believe in a Medicare for all single-payer system, whether a small state like Vermont can lead the nation, which I certainly hope we will, or whether it's California or some other state.
At the end of the day, we need a cost-effective, high-quality health care system, guaranteeing health care to all of our people as a right.
WALLACE: All right. You also --
SANDERS: I do believe that. We don't have it now.
WALLACE: I want to get as much as we can into this, sir.
WALLACE: You also want a 50 percent cut in military spending at a time when ISIS and al Qaeda are on the march --
SANDERS: What does that cut, Chris? I'm sorry?
WALLACE: I'm sorry.
WALLACE: No, I don't.
But I do believe -- what I do believe is that there is enormous waste in military, in Department of Defense. The Department of Defense can't even audit itself, massive cost overruns.
Of course, ISIS is a terrible organization that has to be defeated. And, of course, we need a strong military. But just as with every other agency of government, you know what, the military also has got to get rid of waste and fraud and cost overruns.
So, I want a strong military. But I do not believe, among other things, that without an audit, we should be throwing tens of billions of dollars more into the Department of Defense.
WALLACE: Final question, sir. And it's sort of three-part. When are you going to decide whether you're going to run? How are you going to decide whether you're going to run? What are the chances you're going to run right now?
SANDERS: Well, I think we'll make that decision pretty soon. Not dissimilar from what Lindsey Graham had to say. You know, when you've got these super PACs and billionaires able to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on the candidates of their choice, making sure have you the money to run a credible campaign is very, very important. And that's one of the factors we're going to have to determine.
WALLACE: Well, he said it's a 91 percent chance he's going to run. How about being as specific as he is?
SANDERS: Well, we'll see. We're working on it and we'll make the best decision we can within the near future.
WALLACE: And real quickly, if you run against Secretary Clinton, do you really -- realistically, you've been in politics 35 years. Do you realistically think you can win or is this to make a point and to try to bring her closer to you on some of these issues?
SANDERS: Chris, good question. I would not run unless I thought we could win. I think there is a lot of discontent out there on the part of ordinary people who feel the system is grossly stacked against them.
WALLACE: Senator Sanders, thank you. Thank you for joining us. Please come back, sir.
SANDERS: Thank you very much.