Sanders feeling media heat after new interview

Story highlights

  • Sanders met with the NY Daily News edit board
  • His comments on domestic and foreign affairs drew fire
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Los Angeles (CNN)Bernie Sanders' interview with the New York Daily News ahead of the state's primary later this month didn't go as planned.

The Vermont senator's April 1 sit down with the paper's editorial board, a transcript of which was published Monday, showed him having difficulty clearly answering some questions about both foreign and domestic policy, including the implementation of his much-touted plan to reform Wall Street.
    Several times during the interview, Sanders expressed uncertainty over facts, said he couldn't give a proper answer to a question because he didn't have all the relevant information, or simply stated, "I don't know."
    In one exchange, Sanders acknowledged that he wasn't sure exactly how he intended to break up the big banks, a proposal that has been a centerpiece of his Wall Street reform agenda.
    In an interview Wednesday with CNN's Chris Cuomo, Clinton ripped Sanders for his answer about how he would break up the banks and how the Dodd-Frank regulatory bill works.
    "If you're concerned about income inequality and holding the banks accountable, you have to know how it works and what you have to do to make it work," she said.
    Earlier, on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Clinton said, "I think the [Sanders] interview raised a lot of really serious questions."
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    She added, "I'd think he hadn't done his homework and he has been talking for more than a year about ... things that he obviously hadn't really studied or understood and that does raise a lot of questions and really what it does is for voters to ask themselves, can he deliver what he is talking about, can he really help people."
    For some political observers, the Sanders' difficulty in providing direct answers to some questions reinforced their belief that he lacks a concrete plan to implement his domestic agenda and is ill-prepared to handle the global challenges he would face as president.
    "If Hillary [Clinton] gave answers like this to [an editorial] board, she would be crucified," tweeted Mark Halperin, the Bloomberg television host and co-author of "Game Change."
    Sanders' remarks drew an onslaught of criticism from the press: "Bernie Sanders Admits He Isn't Sure How to Break Up Big Banks," Vanity Fair's headline read. "How Much Does Bernie Sanders Know About Policy?" asked The Atlantic. "This New York Daily News interview was pretty close to a disaster for Bernie Sanders," The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza wrote.
    The Sanders campaign defended itself Wednesday on CNN.
    "I understand when you go to New York you're going to get hit by the tabloids, that's what the primaries are about," Sanders senior adviser Tad Devine said on CNN.
    On Tuesday night, the Clinton campaign even sent the entire, unedited interview transcript to its own supporters in a fundraising email.
    "We've said for a long time that this primary is about who's really going to be able to get things done. And from reading this interview, you get the impression Senator Sanders hasn't thought very much about that," the email read.
    "In fact, even on his signature issue of breaking up the banks, he's unable to answer basic questions about how he'd go about doing it, and even seems uncertain whether a president does or doesn't already have that authority under existing law."
    It wasn't like Sanders was in enemy territory. The Daily News has been quite favorable to Sanders in the run up to the Empire State's primary on April 19, although Wednesday's front page takes Sanders to task for supporting gun makers against the families of Newtown victims. The paper has yet to endorse in the Democratic primary.
    When Sanders was asked, according to the transcript, if there are particular statutes that allow the prosecution of Wall Street executives, he said: "I suspect that there are. Yes."
    Daily News: You believe that? But do you know?
    "I believe that that is the case," Sanders went on. "Do I have them in front of me, now, legal statutes? No, I don't. But if I would...yeah, that's what I believe, yes."
    On foreign affairs, the Daily News asked: "Expanding [Israeli] settlements is one thing; coming into office as a President who said as a baseline that you want Israel to pull back settlements, that changes the dynamic in the negotiations, and I'm wondering how far and what you want Israel to do in terms of pulling back."
    Sanders responded: "Well, again, you're asking me a very fair question, and if I had some paper in front of me, I would give you a better answer."
    When Sanders was asked, aside from Guantanamo Bay, where would he hold and interrogate a "captured ISIS commander," Sanders said:
    "Actually I haven't thought about it a whole lot. I suppose, somewhere near the locale where that person was captured. The best location where that individual would be safely secured in a way that we can get information out of him."