Sen. Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) talks with reporters in the U.S. Capitol on November 28, 2023.

(Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images)

Sanders on Biden: 'He's Gotta Do Better'

"The American people want an agenda for the next four years that speaks to the needs of the working class of this country," said Sen. Bernie Sanders. "And frankly, I don't think the president has brought that agenda forward."

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders said Sunday that President Joe Biden must do a better job articulating a positive agenda to the American public as he faces mounting calls to step aside following his disastrous debate performance against presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.

Sanders (I-Vt.) has thus far declined to join the growing chorus demanding that Biden drop his reelection bid, but the senator acknowledged in an appearance on CBS News' "Face the Nation" that the president had a "terrible" debate and that concerns about his performance are "legitimate."

"I think he's done better since, and I think he's gotta do better again," said Sanders, who competed against Biden in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. "But I think most importantly now, this is not a beauty contest, it's not a Grammy award contest. It is a contest of who stands with the vast majority of the people of this country—the elderly, the children, the working class, the poor. And that candidate is obviously Joe Biden."

Sanders said he would not take part in a conversation organized by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), who is reportedly trying to bring together a group of senators to urge Biden to drop out of the 2024 race and clear the way for an alternative candidate to take on Trump in November as the president faces a revolt from donors and Democratic lawmakers.

"Mark is a friend of mine. I like Mark," the Vermont senator said when asked about the effort. "He's one of the more conservative members of the Democratic caucus. No, I have not been invited. No, I will not attend."

Sanders implored Biden, who has insisted he intends to stay in the race, to recognize that touting his first-term achievements will not be enough to defeat Trump, whom the senator described as "the most dangerous president in the history of this country."

"The American people are hurting," said Sanders. "Sixty percent of our people are living paycheck to paycheck, 25% of elderly people are trying to get by on $15,000 a year or less. The American people want an agenda for the next four years that speaks to the needs of the working class of this country. And frankly, I don't think the president has brought that agenda forward."

"He has gotta say, 'I am prepared to take on corporate greed, massive income and wealth inequality, and stand with the working class of this country,'" Sanders continued. "He does that, he's gonna win and win big."

Sanders' "Face the Nation" appearance came less than 48 hours after Biden's televised and closely watched ABC Newsinterview, which did little to assuage the concerns of those calling on the president to step aside.

The New York Timesreported based on recent interviews with more than 50 Democrats that "growing swaths" of the party now believe "that by remaining on the ticket, the president is jeopardizing their ability to maintain the White House and threatening other candidates up and down the ballot."

"Certainly, many leading Democrats have publicly expressed support for the president, or remained quiet about any misgivings," the Times noted Sunday. "One senior White House official, however, who has worked with Mr. Biden during his presidency, vice presidency, and 2020 campaign, said in an interview on Saturday morning that Mr. Biden should not seek reelection."

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