Presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders expressed support for restoring voting rights to convicted terrorists and sex offenders.
Sanders (I-Vt.) defended extending the right to vote “even for terrible people,” in a speech at a town hall in Manchester, New Hampshire, on April 22.
The Democratic socialist contender was asked by a Harvard college student whether he “would support enfranchising people like the Boston Marathon bomber, a convicted terrorist and murderer.”
Anne Carlstein asked Sanders, “Do you think those convicted of sexual assault should have the opportunity to vote for politicians who have a direct impact on women’s rights?”
The senator responded by saying: “I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy. Yes, even for terrible people, because once you start chipping away and you say, ‘That guy committed a terrible crime, not gonna let him vote. Well, that person did that. Not gonna let that person vote,’ you’re running down a slippery slope.”
— CNN (@CNN) April 23, 2019
The Vermont senator buttressed his position by saying the Constitution says “everybody can vote” and that “some people in jail can vote.”
Sanders said denial of the right to vote should not be part of the punishment for crime.
“If somebody commits a serious crime—sexual assault, murder, they’re gonna be punished,” Sanders said. “They may be in jail for 10 years, 20 years, 50 years, their whole lives. That’s what happens when you commit a serious crime.”
“I believe that people who commit crimes, they pay the price. When they get out of jail, I believe they certainly should have the right the vote, but I do believe that even if they are in jail, they’re paying their price to society, but that should not take away their inherent American right to participate in our democracy,” the senator said.
He labeled efforts to deny those convicted of criminal offenses as attempts “to suppress the vote” by “cowardly Republican governors.”
Trump to Beat Sanders in 2020?
Jim Messina, a former campaign manager for Barack Obama, thinks Sanders wouldn’t be able to beat President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
Messina said in an interview with ABC’s Powerhouse Politics podcast last week that he thinks Sanders would struggle with winning swing voters compared to Trump when it comes to addressing economic issues.
“Bernie Sanders is unlikely to going to be able to stand up to the constant barrage that is Donald Trump on economic issues,” Messina said.
He also predicted that Sanders would be one of the final two or three candidates.
Messina went on to say Sanders would struggle at exciting the Democratic base to attract new voters and grab swing voters.
“And to win an election against Donald Trump you have to do both. … We’re going to look for a nominee to do both and today we would say in the general election context Bernie Sanders wouldn’t be that candidate,” he said.
Messina’s remarks follow President Trump’s prediction that either Sanders or Biden would be the Democratic nominee.
“I believe it will be Crazy Bernie Sanders vs. Sleepy Joe Biden as the two finalists to run against maybe the best Economy in the history of our Country (and MANY other great things)! I look forward to facing whoever it may be. May God Rest Their Soul!” Trump wrote on Twitter on April 16.
I believe it will be Crazy Bernie Sanders vs. Sleepy Joe Biden as the two finalists to run against maybe the best Economy in the history of our Country (and MANY other great things)! I look forward to facing whoever it may be. May God Rest Their Soul!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 17, 2019
Biden was expected to announce his candidacy on April 24, but that has been deferred. Axios reported Biden would likely announce by video on Wednesday or Thursday that he’s in the running.
The news outlet reported that some prominent figures in the Democratic party are pessimistic on Biden’s chances to beat Trump, with one of them equating Biden’s potential tenure as “a third Obama term, a second Hillary term—take your pick.”
Sanders topped the list of contenders for the Democratic Party nomination in the 2020 presidential election in a poll conducted by Emerson College between April 4 and 11.
The Emerson poll showed Biden performing best in a head-to-head contest with President Donald Trump, with 53 percent of the respondents picking Biden and 47 percent favoring the incumbent.
The Trump campaign is focused on exposing a dramatic shift toward socialism among the Democratic candidates while spotlighting the successes of the president’s administration.
“We thought that debate ended in the 1980s. We thought it ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union, but here we are today with Democrats wanting to take us the way of Venezuela,” Kayleigh McEnany, press secretary for the Trump 2020 campaign, told The Epoch Times earlier this month.
“So we’re all very keenly focused on socialism—every single one of us in the campaign.”
Epoch Times reporter Janita Kan contributed to this article.