Former U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Sunday urged a major overhaul of his party, calling for more aggressive efforts to court working-class voters and fight big businesses from Wall Street to the pharmaceutical sector.
Sanders, who spoke a day after Democrats chose Tom Perez, a veteran of former President Barack Obama’s administration, as their new party chairman, said it was also crucial for progressives to do more to mobilize grassroots supporters to take on Republican President Donald Trump.
“We need a total transformation,” the 75-year-old U.S. senator from Vermont said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“We need to open up the party to working people, to young people and make it crystal clear that the Democratic Party is going to take on Wall Street, it’s going to take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, it’s going to take on corporate America that is shutting down plants in this country and moving our jobs abroad,” he added.
Democrats are struggling to recover from an electoral rout in November in which they lost not only the White House, but both chambers of the U.S. Congress. Republicans won the governor’s office in 33 states, up from 31, and increased their dominance in state legislatures.
The unexpectedly strong challenge from Sanders, a Democratic socialist, to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary laid bare the fissures within the party.
Sanders’ calls to rein in big businesses echoed a campaign theme that energized his supporters during the Democratic primary.
Sanders had backed U.S. Representative Keith Ellison, a liberal from Minnesota, to lead the Democrats but threw his support behind Perez after Saturday’s vote. Perez promptly made Ellison his deputy after the election.
Trump seized on the result to reprise a favorite phrase from the presidential campaign, calling the race for Democratic National Committee chairman “totally rigged.”
“Bernie’s guy, like Bernie himself, never had a chance. Clinton demanded Perez!” he said in a Twitter post on Sunday.
Perez, who was labor secretary under Obama, promised to rebuild the Democratic Party and redefine its mission from the grassroots up.
“That’s what we have to do as Democrats, help elect people in statehouses, presidency, local government and everywhere in between,” Perez said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Democrats did not invest enough in their party infrastructure and grassroots organizing and ignored large swathes of rural America, Perez said in a round of television appearances.
Trump swept those areas and the Rust Belt region in the Midwest with his talk of bringing jobs back to America and renegotiating the trade deals many blamed for their loss.
Perez cited the angry town halls some Republican lawmakers have faced recently and said it was important for Democrats to harness that energy into the ballot booth.
(Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Caren Bohan)
‘Breonna’s Law’ legislator arrested by Louisville police for first-degree rioting: report
A spokesman for a police union in Louisville announced on Thursday that the only black woman in the Kentucky legislator had been arrested while protesting the lack of charges for the killing of Breonna Taylor by the Louisville Metro Police Department.
"Kentucky State Rep. Attica Scott, author of legislation known as "Breonna’s Law," was arrested with others Thursday evening during protests demanding justice for Breonna Taylor," WDRB-TV reports. "Scott, a Louisville Democrat, was among a group of individuals arrested near the main branch of the Louisville Free Public Library and First Unitarian Church at the intersection of South Fourth and York streets, according to Tracy Dotson, a spokesman for Louisville Corrections Lodge #77 Fraternal Order of Police union. Scott was charged with first-degree rioting and failure to disperse, Dotson said."
WATCH: Late-night hosts go off on Trump for ‘chilling’ plan ‘to steal the election’
Late-night television hosts harshly criticized President Donald Trump for refusing to say there would be a peaceful transition of power if he loses the November election.
"In one of the more chilling moments of his presidency -- and they've been a few -- Donald Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power as Republicans formulated the plan to steal the election through the courts," Seth Meyers explained.
"We're as close as we've ever been to losing our democracy and watching our government transform into an autocratic regime," he continued. "It's happen right in front our eyes right now, you don't need to wait for Trump to roll down Pennsylvania Avenue on a tank in green fatigues with a long chin-beard -- especially since if he did try to grow one he'd probably just look like a very sick chihuahua."
White supremacist gang member shot dead after ambushing police in California: report
Authorities in California on Thursday announced that one man was dead after a shootout with law enforcement.
"A white supremacist gang member was killed in a gun battle with law enforcement after he ambushed and shot a deputy pursuing him Thursday near the Templeton Cemetery, Sheriff Ian Parkinson said at a news conference," The Triubune reported Thursday.
"According to Parkinson, a sheriff’s deputy was driving in the Theatre Drive area around 10:20 a.m. when the deputy recognized the car of a wanted felon parked on the side of the road. The deputy made a U-turn and pulled up next to the vehicle, which was unoccupied. The deputy then proceeded north and found the man walking on Cemetery Road off Theatre Drive near the Templeton Cemetery, Parkinson said. He said the deputy tried to make a pedestrian traffic stop, but the man took off running toward the cemetery," the newspaper reported.