Bernie Sanders Wants Unions To Run Their Own Democratic Debates

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Democratic presidential hopeful and self-described socialist Bernie Sanders advocated Sunday for more Democratic primary debates, including some run by labor unions.

“I’d like to see the DNC have more debates,” Bernie Sanders told Face the Nation host John Dickerson. “I would like to see labor union groups. I would like to see environmental groups, women’s groups, gay groups … different constituencies, host events and have us debate. So I believe the more debates, the better.”

Sanders was disappointed with a recent decision by the Democratic National Committee to hold only six primary debates between October 2015 and March 2016. Sanders argued the committee, along with other groups and affiliations, should hold more debates.

“What’s more important to me is I think in this country today, we need serious debate about serious issues,” he added. “There’re so many major problems facing our country. I think more debates is better. And I think having different organizations sponsor debates outside of the DNC makes a lot of sense to me.”

Sanders has been a big advocate for issues important to unions. He supports the union-backed living wage movement and he is against the sharing economy. In July Sanders introduced a bill that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

He has even used his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to muscle Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton out of union support. Unions have a lot of political influence and their support or the lack thereof could mean a lot. Especially during the primary.

“He stressed his opposition to job-killing trade deals starting with the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement and including opposition to this year’s proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership,” the campaign for Sanders noted in a press release. “With former Secretary of State Clinton’s reluctance to take a clear stand on the Pacific trade deal, the affiliation of unions was expected to withhold an endorsement at least for now.”

TPP is being pursued by President Barack Obama but many within his own party, including unions, have opposed it. Hillary Clinton has been reluctant to take a firm stance against the deal.

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