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DICKERSON: We sat down earlier with Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders.
DICKERSON: Senator Sanders, I want to start with the Republican debate, the big news in politics this week. Did you watch?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I did.
DICKERSON: And what did you think?
SANDERS: Not much.
I mean, what amazed is not just the answers that I heard. It's the answers that I did not hear. Scientific community is virtually unanimous that climate change is one of the great environmental crises facing this planet. Not one word. Massive level of income and wealth inequality in America. The rich are getting richer. Almost everybody else is getting poorer. No discussion.
Citizens United Supreme Court decision that allows billionaires to buy elections and buy candidates, huge issue, future of American democracy. No discussion at all. So, on some of the most important issue facing our people, there was almost no discussion. But I will tell you what there was and what concerns me very, very much. Apparently, most of the candidates up there do not remember the consequences of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And the kind of easy feeling, the kind of nonconsequential talk about going to war or rejecting the president's effort to negotiate an agreement with Iran disturb me very much, because I think these people do not know what the war in Iraq did to our people, did to the people in Iraq, and that how many of our folks came back wounded and dead.
DICKERSON: I want to switch to a serious issue, which is that Iranian nuclear deal.
President Obama this week, in making his pitch for it, he said this:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's those hard- liners chanting death to America who have been most opposed to the deal. They're making common cause with the Republican Caucus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: Well, let me just say this.
Clearly, our goal and what the president and Secretary Kerry have been working on is to do everything possible to see that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon, which would destabilize incredibly that entire region of the world. And it's something that should not happen.
I believe that we have got to go through every possible effort in order to make sure that we achieve that goal of Iran not having a nuclear weapon without going to war.
DICKERSON: So, do you support the agreement?
SANDERS: Yes, I do. I do.
DICKERSON: So, you're -- OK.
SANDERS: Look, I'm not going to tell that you this is a perfect agreement. And every agreement can be better.
But what the president has had to do is negotiate with the P5- plus-one and Iran, and I think that reaching an agreement, giving it a chance makes a lot more sense than the option.
DICKERSON: The president said, though -- this idea of the hard- liners chanting death to America in Iraq making common cause with the opponents of this deal, do you buy...
SANDERS: I wouldn't frame it that way. But this is the way I would frame it. And this is what I saw recently in the Republican debate, is, I -- it's so easy to be critical of an agreement which is not perfect.
But the United States has to negotiate with other countries. We have to negotiate with Iran. And the alternative, the alternative of not reaching an agreement, you know what it is? It's war. Do we really want another war, a war with Iran, an asymmetrical warfare that will take place all over this world, threatening American troops?
I think that -- so, I think we go as far as we possibly can in trying to give peace a chance, if you like, trying to see if this agreement will work. And I will support it.
DICKERSON: I want to ask you now, turning back to politics, with Hillary Clinton, we have seen in the polls some people question her trustworthiness, related perhaps to these e-mails. You have said repeatedly you're not going to get engaged in gossip and not bother with that.
Do those people, though, who are making a link between her e- mails and trustworthiness, are they mistaken? Are they giving into gossip?
SANDERS: Well, this is what I think.
I think, for a variety of reasons, Hillary Clinton has been under all kinds of attack for many, many years. In fact, I can't think of many personalities who have been attacked for more reasons than Hillary Clinton.
And, by the way, let me be frank. And I'm running against her. Some of it is sexist. I don't know that a man would be treated the same way that Hillary is.
So, all that I can say is, I have known Hillary Clinton for 25 years. I admire her. I respect her. I like her. She and I have very different points of view on a number of issues. We have differences of opinion on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We have differences on Keystone pipeline. She voted for the war in Iraq. I helped lead the opposition against that. She voted for the Patriot Act. I voted against it.
I think we have to take on the billionaire class and Wall Street. I'm not quite too sure that's her view.
DICKERSON: You mentioned the billionaire class. I would like to play a clip from Donald Trump about money in politics that you may agree with. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I'm not doing what's right for a man that gave me a million dollars to run for office and I owe him. And when Bush gets $100 million-plus, and when Hillary gets $50 million-plus, every one of those people that put up money will control Bush, control. I don't mean like a little bit. Bush is controlled by those people. Walker is controlled by those people. Hillary Clinton is controlled by those people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DICKERSON: Do you agree with Donald Trump on that?
SANDERS: I think that the Citizens United decision, which allows billionaires, as Trump mentioned, to pour huge amounts of money into campaigns, to allow the Koch brothers to spend more money, an extreme right-wing family, to spend more money in this election cycle than either the Democrats or the Republicans is a disaster for American democracy.
And do I think that the people who make these contributions, the huge contributions, do it out of the goodness of their heart, or do they want something? Of course they want something. Now, the problem is, it's easy for Trump to say, I don't need their money.
Yes, because he's a billionaire. The logical consequences is that the only people who can run for office in America, who don't have to curry favors, are billionaires themselves. I am trying another way. We have gotten -- well over 300,000 people have made individual contributions. Do you know what the average contribution is? Thirty- one bucks.
We're running a people-oriented campaign. Can we actually prevail over a billionaire or the billionaire class? Time will tell. I think we can.
DICKERSON: All right, Bernie Sanders, thanks for much for being with us.
SANDERS: Thank you very much.
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