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Perez and Sanders are on a cross-country tour of red and purple states in hopes of reenergizing the Democratic Party and bolstering the grassroots resistance to Trump. (Screenshot)

Under Perez, DNC Still Resisting Call to 'Name the Enemy'

DNC chair and Vermont senator speak with MSNBC's Chris Hayes on their national tour and Democratic Party messaging

Nadia Prupis

Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair Tom Perez on Tuesday seemed to distance himself from the call for the DNC to become more progressive, as he and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) spoke with MSNBC's Chris Hayes to discuss their national "Come Together and Fight Back" tour.

Hayes noted that Hillary Clinton's "hopeful" campaign ultimately failed against President Donald Trump's counter-message, which often blamed immigrants for America's economic troubles, and asked if Democrats are willing to adopt Sanders' candid opposition to the ruling class.

"Do you have to name the enemy?" Hayes asked Perez. "Do you have to say 'these are the people that are screwing you'?"

Perez appeared to waffle on his answer, stating, "I think you're creating a false choice...what we have to do as Democrats is to articulate very clearly that Donald Trump's vision for America is a vision for the top one percent of the one percent. It's a vision that's divisive."

His response did not sit well with the grassroots action group AllOfUs, which is pushing Democrats to adopt progressive values. "If you cannot name who stands in the way of a creating a country where all of us have what we need to thrive, then you cannot lead America," the group tweeted. "The only way to win is by telling the truth about our broken system and placing the blame where it belongs... with Wall Street and corporate CEOs, the politicians who use racism to divide us, and a corrupt political establishment in both parties."

Perez and Sanders are on a cross-country tour of red and purple states in hopes of reenergizing the Democratic Party and bolstering the grassroots resistance to Trump. But the DNC chair, who was seen as a corporate choice when he was elected over progressive favorite Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), has reportedly been having some trouble connecting with rally-goers, having been booed on the road.

Hayes asked Perez to tell him "one thing" he learned about the residents of these states.

"The people of Kentucky, the people of Maine, the people everywhere I go, are incredibly resilient people," the DNC chair said. "They want to hear the message of the Democratic Party. They want to hear that optimistic message of inclusion. How are we going to make their lives better?..."

Hayes asked Sanders if he agreed.

"What I see and hear is a lot more pain and a lot more discontent than you see on television or you read in the paper," the Vermont senator said, describing one woman's account of experiencing poverty and hunger throughout her childhood and college education. "The Democratic Party has got to hear that pain. And it has gotta say, 'you know what? We're going to stand up to those people who have the power—both economically and politically—and we are going to take them on.'"

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