Bernie Sanders says he won’t launch a Super PAC and doesn’t want billionaires to bankroll his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.
The Vermont senator who entered the 2016 race for the White House on Thursday told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in his first interview as a candidate that he’ll instead look to small-dollar individual donors.
And he lambasted the growing influence that major donors like Charles and David Koch on the right and Tom Steyer on the left now have on the political process.
“Frankly, it is vulgar to me that we’re having a war of billionaires,” Sanders said.
Asked whether he would bless a wealthy donor’s support for a pro-Sanders Super PAC, he said: “No.”
“The real question is, can any candidate in this country who represents working families, who is not a billionaire, who is not beholden to big corporations — in this day and age, can that candidate win an election?” Sanders said.
He didn’t wade into many key differences with the other declared Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton.
But Sanders did highlight his opposition to the Iraq War, which Clinton voted to support. He said he’ll make his opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline and his intense focus on climate change key issues in his campaign, and said he favors a tough approach to big banks.
“I believe we should break up the Wall Street banks. If they’re too big to fail, they’re too big to exist,” Sanders said.
He also commented on the violent protests that have erupted in Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man who was in police custody.
Sanders said he supports requiring police officers to wear body cameras and other reforms so that “suspects are treated with respect.” Long-term, he said, tensions in urban areas between police and residents need to be eased through increased economic and educational opportunity.
Sanders also called for “community policing, where police are perceived as part of the community, the good guys, rather than as interlopers.”