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Sanders on Republican Debate: Candidates Will Coddle the Rich

Vermont senator says Republican presidential hopefuls 'want to give more tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires at a time when the rich are getting much richer.'

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaking at a campaign event in Phoenix, Arizona in July 2015.  (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

Sen. Bernie Sanders thinks you can expect the Republican candidates squaring off at the first official debate of the 2016 presidential campaign to have the same focus—the needs of the wealthy.

The Independent senator from Vermont and presidential hopeful made the comment in an interview on SiriusXM Progress radio.

While there has been some controversy surrounding the process determining the ten candidates that will get the main debate stage Thursday evening, Sanders said "what's more important to me [...] is what these guys are saying."

"If you listen closely, there are obviously nuances of differences," Sanders told host Ari Rabin-Havt. But the agenda they'll lay out will be similar, he said.

First, he said, "they want to give more tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires at a time when the rich are getting much richer."

"There may be one or two on there who actually have listened to the scientific community and think that climate change is real," he added, but "most of them refuse to accept that, and none of them are prepared to act aggressively to transform our energy system."

"They want to cut or privatize Medicare, cut Medicaid, cut education, cut the Environmental Protection Agency," Sanders told Rabin-Havt.

"That is what their agenda is. Essentially, when you watch that debate, just imagine if you're one of the wealthiest people in this country and extremely greedy and selfish, and you're going to have ten candidates more or less talking about your needs and not the needs of working people," Sanders said.

Sanders also said in a statement Wednesday that he had accepted an invitation to speak at Liberty University, the Evangelical Christian university founded by Jerry Falwell.

"It goes without saying that my views on many issues—women’s rights, gay rights, education—are very different from the opinions of some in the Liberty University community," Sanders stated. "I think it is important, however, to see if we can reach consensus regarding the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality in our country, about the collapse of the middle class, about the high level of childhood poverty, about climate change and other issues."

"It is very easy for a candidate to speak to people who hold the same views," his statement continues. "It’s harder but important to reach out to others who look at the world differently."

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