Bernie Sanders says "what we have got to focus on is policy" after Biden age questions

Washington — Sen. Bernie Sanders said the focus for President Biden to win reeelection in 2024 should be on policy amid questions over the president’s age that have roiled the political sphere since his disastrous debate against former President Donald Trump last month. 

“Biden is old, he’s not as articulate as he once was. I wish he could jump up the steps on Air Force One, he can’t,” Sanders said Sunday on “Face the Nation.” “What we have got to focus on is policy — whose policies have and will benefit the vast majority of the people in this country?”

The independent senator from Vermont, who has worked closely with President Biden on some shared priorities since they competed for the nomination in 2020, said that Mr. Biden “can clearly defeat Donald Trump,” calling him “the most dangerous president in the history of this country.”

Sanders painted the decision for voters as stark — contrasting the former president’s stance on abortion and climate change with Mr. Biden’s pro-union, climate and infrastructure achievements. But he added that although the president’s record is “strong,” he’s “critical of the Biden campaign” when it comes to the need for an agenda for the next four years. 

Sen. Bernie Sanders on “Face the Nation,” July 7, 2024.

CBS News

“The American people want an agenda for the next four years that speaks to the needs of the working class of this country,” Sanders said. “So frankly, I don’t think the president has brought that agenda forward.”

Sanders outlined that if the president pledges to take on income and wealth inequality and stand with the working class, “he is going to win and win big,” also highlighting issues like expanding Medicare, extending the life of Social Security, and addressing childhood poverty with a permanent child tax credit. 

“He’s got to promise the American people that if they give him a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House, reelect him, he’s gonna do that in the first 100 days,” Sanders said. “That’s what I think the American people want.”

The comments come as the president has made a handful of appearances in recent days, working to assuage concern about his ability to serve another term after the debate. He’s repeatedly pledged to stay in the race during the weekend that’s been billed as a critical one for his hopes to reassure Democrats. 

At a rally in Wisconsin on Friday, Mr. Biden worked to curb speculation about whether he would stay in the race, vowing that “I am running and going to win again.” And in a highly anticipated interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos later that day, Mr. Biden suggested that only divine intervention could prompt him to leave the race. 

“If the Lord almighty came down and said ‘Joe, get out of the race,’ I’d get out of the race,” the president said. “The Lord almighty’s not coming down.”

But the appearances didn’t do enough to stifle the latest in a slow leak of Democratic lawmakers who have called for him to step aside. Rep. Angie Craig, who represents a frontline district in Minnesota, became the latest House Democrat to call for the president to withdraw from the race on Saturday. And the attention is expected to be on the president’s support in Congress as lawmakers return from recess this week. 

Meanwhile, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia has been speaking with Democratic colleagues about finding ways to convince Mr. Biden to step aside and let others seek the nomination, a senator who has been contacted by Warner told CBS News. Sanders said he was not part of the group and would not attend a discussion with colleagues. 

When asked whether he would be open to being considered for the nomination himself should Mr. Biden step aside, Sanders said he remains focused on running for reelection in Vermont. 

“That’s where my focus is right now,” he said. 

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