Washington (CNN)Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders hit Republican contender Jeb Bush for his comments on the productivity of American workers and said he was best positioned to take on the nation's "billionaire class" if elected president.
Sanders dings Bush on work, ducks personal questions
The Vermont senator, who identifies as a Democratic socialist, said that 85 percent of men and 65 percent of women are working more than 40 hours a week.
"So what we need to do is raise wages and income, not force more people, who are already stressed out by long hours, to work even more hours," Sanders said on CNN's "New Day".
Jeb Bush told The Union Leader in New Hampshire Wednesday that "people need to work longer hours", which quickly drew a blast from frontrunner Hillary Clinton, who accused Bush of not understanding how hard Americans already work.
The Bush team explained his comments were taken out of context and said he meant that more part-time workers need full time jobs.
When pressed on if he was twisting Bush's comments, which Bush has said were about the availability of good full time jobs an not about American work ethic, Sanders relented.
"If he is talking about the need for more full time jobs than part time jobs he is absolutely correct," Sanders said.
Sanders has been gaining ground on frontrunner Hillary Clinton steadily, as the liberal wing of the Democratic party has coalesced behind him. As he has inched forward, personal questions from his past have bubbled up in media.
Asked about a Politico story on the child he had out of wedlock almost 40 years ago, Sanders deflected, saying he wanted to focus instead on issues. CNN's Chris Cuomo asked Sanders if he believed he could avoid personal scrutiny while running for president.
"I'm not being naïve, I understand it, yes," Sanders said. "No, no, I don't think I can avoid it. But this this country faces enormous problems and I think it's incumbent upon political leaders and the media to focus on those issues and not make politics into a soap opera."