Bernie Sanders

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Bernie Sanders is an independent Senator from Vermont who caucuses with the Democrats. He is the former mayor of Burlington, Vermont and served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1991 to 2007. He was elected to the senate in 2007 and currently serves as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. He also serves on the Committee on the Budget, the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and the Committee on Environment and Public Works. He announced his campaign for the democratic nomination in April 2015 on the shores of Lake Champlain, VT. 

On the Issues

AAI tracks statements, non-statements, and the track records of each presidential candidate on the issues we care about most. Click on an issue to read what Bernie Sanders has said on the campaign trail. For our take on why these are the 12 issues that are most important to our community, read here.


Foreign Policy     

Domestic Policy


U.S. Role in the Middle East 

Voting Rights 


U.S. Response to ISIL

Civil Rights + Civil Liberties








Community Policing




Bigoted Speech


Iran Negotiations 

Immigration Reform

Key Advisors

  • Revolution Messaging:  A small digital outreach firm led by veteran Obama campaign staff. Revolution Messaging will manage online fundraising and social media for the Senator’s campaign.

  • Michael Briggs: Communications Director. Starting as a Chicago Sun-Times columnist, Briggs became a political spokesman. From the 1990’s to early 2000’s, he has served three Senators and one Representative in the U.S.

  • Tad Devine: a longtime Democratic strategist. He has worked for several other presidential candidates, including John Kerry, Al Gore and Michael Dukakis.

  • Jeff Weaver: Campaign Manager. Weaver has been a loyal Sanders supporter from the start of his career. Starting as a volunteer in his 1986 gubernatorial campaign, he became Bernie’s campaign managers and then his chief of staff during Sander’s 2006 race for the Senate.


The U.S. Role in the Middle East

"Number one, yes, 100-0 in the Senate voted for democracy in Libya and I would vote for that again. But that is very different from getting actively involved to overthrow and bring about regime change without fully understanding what the consequence of that regime change would be. Second of all, I know you keep referring to Barack Obama all night here, but you in Syria, you in Syria talked about a no-fly zone, which the president certainly does not support, nor do I support because, A, it will cost an enormous sum of money, second of all, it runs the risk of getting us sucked into perpetual warfare in that region. Thirdly, when we talk about Syria right now, no debate, like Gadhafi, like Saddam Hussein, Assad is another brutal murdering dictator, but right now our fight is to destroy ISIS first, and to get rid of Assad second." (April 14, 2016 - CNN Democratic Debate in Brooklyn)

"And I believe that the best way to do that is to be aggressive, to be principled, but to have the goal of trying to improve relations. That's how you make peace in the world. You sit down and you work with people, you make demands of people, in this case demanding Iran stop the support of international terrorism." (February 11, 2016 - Wisconsin Democratic Debate)

“There has got to be an international coalition dealing with terrorism and it cannot be only the United States.” (November 2015, MSNBC Democratic Forum)

"America must defend freedom at home and abroad, but we must seek diplomatic solutions before resorting to military action." (September 2015, Twitter)

"I voted against the war in Iraq because I feared very much the destabilizing impact it would have on the region. Today, after 13 years in Afghanistan and 12 years in Iraq, after the loss of almost 7,000 troops and the expenditure of trillions of dollars, I very much fear U.S. involvement in an expanding and never-ending quagmire in that region of the world." (February 11, 2015 - Statement on War Powers Resolution)

“What you can argue is that there are times and places where drone attacks have been effective. There are times and places where they have been absolutely counter-effective and have caused more problems than they have solved. When you kill innocent people, what the end result is that people in the region become anti-American who otherwise would not have been.” (August 2015, ABC)

“I'm not a pacifist, and I understand that sometimes you do have to go to war. I think war is the very, very, very last option.” (July 2015 - Vox)

“But when I hear words like enduring conflict, it makes me very, very nervous. I think it opens a door wider than it should be.” (February 2015, Real Clear Politics)

U.S. Response to ISIL

"What I am saying is that the major powers in the region – especially the Gulf States – have to take greater responsibility for the future of the Middle East and the defeat of ISIS. What I am saying is that countries like Qatar – which intends to spend up to $200 billion to host the 2022 World Cup – Qatar which per capita is the wealthiest nation in the world – Qatar can do more to contribute to the fight Against ISIS. If they are prepared to spend $200 billion for a soccer tournament, then they have got to spend a lot spend a lot more against a barbaric organization....I want everybody to remember – that not so many years ago it was the United States and our troops that reinstalled the royal family in Kuwait after Saddam Hussein’s invasion in 1990. We put these people back on the throne. Now they have the obligation to work with us and other countries to destroy ISIS." (February 11, 2016 - Wisconsin Democratic Debate)

“Our job is to train and provide military support for Muslim countries in the area who are prepared to take on ISIS.” (January 17, 2016 - Washington Post)

"I do not believe in unilateral American action. I believe in action in which we put together a strong coalition of forces, major powers and the Muslim nations. I think one of the heroes in a real quagmire out there, in a dangerous and difficult world, one of the heroes who we should recognize in the Middle East is King Abdullah II of Jordan. This small country has welcomed in many refugees. And Abdullah said something recently, very important. He said, "Yes, international terrorism is by definition an international issue, but it is primarily an issue of the Muslim nations who are fighting for the soul of Islam. We the Muslims should lead the effort on the ground." And I believe he is absolutely right." (December 19, 2015 - ABC News Debate)

"My plan is to make it work, to tell Saudi Arabia that instead of going to war in Yemen, they, one of the wealthiest countries on Earth, are going to have to go to war against ISIS. To tell Qatar, that instead of spending $200 billion on the World Cup, maybe they should pay attention to ISIS, which is at their doorstep." (December 19, 2015 - ABC News Debate)

In response to the Paris terrorist attacks, Sanders said, "In my view, now is the time for developing a serious and effective approach to destroy ISIS. Now is not the time for taking cheap political advantage of this tragedy. Now is the time – as President Obama is trying to do – to unite the world in an organized campaign against ISIS that will eliminate the stain of ISIS from this world... What terrorism is about is trying to instill terror and fear into the hearts of people. And we will not let that happen. We will not be terrorized or live in fear. During these difficult times, we will not succumb to Islamophobia. We will not turn our backs on the refugees who are fleeing Syria and Afghanistan. We will do what we do best and that is be Americans – fighting racism, fighting xenophobia, fighting fear." (November 2015, Campaign Rally)

“We must work with our NATO partners, and expand our coalition to include Russia and members of the Arab League.” (November 2015, The Hill)

“We must create an organization like NATO to confront the security threats of the 21st century — an organization that emphasizes cooperation and collaboration to defeat the rise of violent extremism and importantly to address the root causes underlying these brutal acts,” (November 2015, The Hill)

"They are gonna have to take on ISIS. This is a war for the soul of Islam. And those countries who are opposed to Islam, they are gonna have to get deeply involved in a way that is not the case today. We should be supportive of that effort. So should the UK, so should France. But those Muslim countries are gonna have to lead the efforts. They are not doing it now." (November 2015, CBS Democratic Debate)

“What is important to understand is we have organizations, whether it is ISIS or Al Qaeda who do believe we should go back several thousand years, we should make women third-class citizens, that we should allow children to be sexually assaulted, that they are a danger to modern society. And that this world with American leadership can and must come together to destroy them. We can do that.” (November 2015, CBS Democratic Debate)

“What I believe in terms of how you deal with ISIS… I know that Saudi Arabia and all these countries they want American ground troops to be in combat now – I disagree. I think what this war against the barbaric ISIS organization is about is for the soul of Islam. And I think you’ve got a lot of Muslim countries there who are going to have to roll up their sleeves and get their troops on the ground and start taking on ISIS in a way they have not yet done. And I think also… the United States has got to be supportive… so do countries all over the world that are facing threats from ISIS… there needs to be a world coalition.” (November 2015, MSNBC Democratic Forum)

“What I think what we have got to do right now is demand that the countries in that region – Saudi arabia has the third largest military budget in the world. We restored the Kuwaiti royal family to their position in the first gulf war. You’ve got the UAE sitting there, which is an extraordinary wealthy family. So the first point I would make is it is wrong to ask the United States of America alone with our armed forces and our tax payers to put that country back together again. You need a regional force of people who are prepared to take on ISIS and destroy that barbaric organization. In terms of Assad, clearly you have an horrendous dictator who has been at war with his own people. I would put my major priority in the area right now in getting rid of ISIS and phasing out… Assad… We’ve also got to… work with Russia, work with Saudi Arabia, work with Iran, all of whom who have a common interest in that area in opposition to ISIS.” (October 2015, Morning Joe)

“I think we’ve got to continue air strikes. I think we’ve got to use special operations forces when we can. But I do not want to see a never-ending quagmire in the Middle East where our troops die, come back with terrible illnesses and we end up spending trillions of dollars.” (February 2015, Real Clear Politics)

"ISIS is a brutal, awful, dangerous army and they have got to be defeated. But this is not just an American problem. This is an international crisis. This is a regional crisis. And I think the people of America are getting sick and tired of the world and the region, Saudi Arabia and the other countries saying ‘hey, we don't have to do anything about it. The American taxpayer, the American soldiers will do all the work for us.’ Most people don't know is that Saudi Arabia is the 4th largest defense spender in the world, more than the U.K., more than France. They have an army which is probably seven times larger than ISIS. They have a major air force.” (October 12, 2014 - CNN SOTU)


"Another major challenge in the region, of course, is the Syrian Civil War itself – one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recent history. After five years of brutal conflict, the only solution in Syria will be, in my view, a negotiated political settlement. Those who advocate for stronger military involvement by the U.S. to oust Assad from power have not paid close enough attention to history. That would simply prolong the war and increase the chaos in Syria, not end it. In other words, we all recognize that Assad is a brutal dictator. But I think that our priorities right now have got to be destroy ISIS, work out a political settlement with Russia and Iran to get Assad out of power. I applaud Secretary Kerry and the Obama administration for negotiating a partial ceasefire between the Assad regime and most opposition forces. The ceasefire shows the value of American-led diplomacy, rather than escalating violence. It may not seem like a lot, but it is. Diplomacy in this instance has had some real success." (March 22, 2016 - Utah campaign speech)

"Let me just -- just say this. For a start, the Secretary and I disagree -- and I think the President does not agree with her -- in terms of the concept of a no-fly zone in Syria." (February 11, 2016 - Wisconsin Democratic Debate)

"A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to go on a congressional delegation. And I went to one of these Turkish refugee camps right on the border of Syria. And what a sad sight that was: Men, women, children forced out of their homes. And Turkey, by the way, did a very decent thing, providing what was reasonable housing and conditions for those people. It seems to me that given our history as a nation that has been a beacon of hope for the oppressed, for the downtrodden, that I very strongly disagree with those Republican candidates who say, you know what, we've got to turn our backs on women and children who left their home with nothing, nothing at all. That is not what America is supposed to be about. So I believe that working with Europe -- and, by the way, you know, we've got some very wealthy countries there in that part of the world. You got Kuwait and you got Qatar and you got Saudi Arabia. They have a responsibility, as well. But I think this is a worldwide -- that the entire world needs to come together to deal with this horrific refugee crisis we're seeing from Syria and Afghanistan, as well." (February 11, 2016 - Wisconsin Democratic Debate)

"Yes, of course Assad is a terrible dictator. But I think we have got to get our foreign policies and priorities right. The immediate -- it is not Assad who is attacking the United States. It is ISIS. And ISIS is attacking France and attacking Russian airliners. The major priority, right now, in terms of our foreign and military policy should be the destruction of ISIS." (December 19, 2015 - ABC News Debate)

"During difficult times, we will not succumb to racism, we will not allow ourselves to be divided and succumb to Islamophobia. And when hundreds of thousands of people have lost everything ... we will not turn our backs on the refugees." (November 2015, Campaign rally in Cleveland)

“In terms of refugees I believe that the United States has the moral responsibility with Europe, with Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia to make sure that when people leave countries like Afghanistan and Syria with nothing more than the clothing on their back that of course we reach out. Now what the magic number is, I don't know. Because we don't know the extent of the problem. But I certainly think that the United States should take its full responsibility in helping those.” (November 2015, CBS Democratic Debate)

After being asked if he supports President Obama’s latest announcement of deploying 50 special forces to Syria to fight ISIL, Sanders said, “No. I do not want to see us get sucked into a quagmire of which there may be no end.” (November 2015, MSNBC Democratic Forum)

“Well, let's understand that when we talk about Syria, you're talking about a quagmire in a quagmire. You're talking about groups of people trying to overthrow Assad, other groups of people fighting ISIS. You're talking about people who are fighting ISIS using their guns to overthrow Assad, and vice versa…  I can to make sure that the United States does not get involved in another quagmire like we did in Iraq, the worst foreign policy blunder in the history of this country. We should be putting together a coalition of Arab countries who should be leading the effort. We should be supportive, but I do not support American ground troops in Syria.” (October 2015, CNN Democratic Debate)

“A no-fly zone in Syria, which I think is a very dangerous situation… Could lead to real problems.” (October 2015, CNN Democratic Debate)

“I think the president is trying very hard to thread a tough needle here, and that is to support those people who are against Assad, against ISIS, without getting us on the ground there, and that's the direction I believe we should have.” (October 2015, CNN Democratic Debate)

“I support air strikes in Syria and what the president is trying to do.” (October 2015, CNN Democratic Debate)

Establishing a no-fly zone over Syria would “make a very complex situation in Syria even worse.” (October 2015, Washington Post)

“I support President Obama’s effort to combat the Islamic State in Syria while at the same time supporting those in Syria trying to overthrow the brutal dictatorship of Bashar Assad… I oppose, at this point, a unilateral American no-fly zone in Syria, which could get us more deeply involved in that horrible civil war and lead to a never-ending U.S. entanglement in that region.” (October 2015, Washington Post

When asked specifically how many Syrian refugees he would accept to be resettled in the U.S., Sanders replied, “It’s impossible to give a proper number until we understand the dimensions of the problem...People are leaving Iraq, they're leaving Syria, with just the clothes on their backs. The world has got to respond, and the United States should be part of that response.” (September 2015, NBC News)

"The Muslim countries in that area, that has got to be a strong coalition, they are going to have got to get their hands dirty. They can’t sit aside and wait for the United State of America - our soldiers, our taxpayers - to carry the ball for them. They’re going to have to lead the affair.” (June 2015, Diane Rehm show)


"Well, as somebody who spent many months of my life when I was a kid in Israel, who has family in Israel, of course Israel has a right not only to defend themselves, but to live in peace and security without fear of terrorist attack. That is not a debate. But -- but what you just read, yeah, I do believe that. Israel was subjected to terrorist attacks, has every right in the world to destroy terrorism. But we had in the Gaza area -- not a very large area -- some 10,000 civilians who were wounded and some 1,500 who were killed. Now, if you're asking not just me, but countries all over the world was that a disproportionate attack, the answer is that I believe it was, and let me say something else. And, let me say something else. As somebody who is 100% pro-Israel, in the long run -- and this is not going to be easy, God only knows, but in the long run if we are ever going to bring peace to that region which has seen so much hatred and so much war, we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity. So what is not to say -- to say that right now in Gaza, right now in Gaza unemployment is s somewhere around 40%. You got a log of that area continues, it hasn't been built, decimated, houses decimated health care decimated, schools decimated. I believe the United States and the rest of the world have got to work together to help the Palestinian people. That does not make me anti-Israel. That paves the way, I think to an approach that works in the Middle East." (April 14, 2016 - CNN Democratic Debate in Brooklyn)

"I read Secretary Clinton's statement speech before AIPAC. I heard virtually no discussion at all about the needs of the Palestinian people. Almost none in that speech. So here is the issue: of course Israel has a right to defend itself, but long term there will never be peace in that region unless the United States plays a role, an even-handed role trying to bring people together and recognizing the serious problems that exist among the Palestinian people. That is what I believe the world wants to us do and that's the kind of leadership that we have got to exercise." (April 14, 2016 - CNN Democratic Debate in Brooklyn)

"There comes a time -- there comes a time when if we pursue justice and peace, we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time. You gave a major speech to AIPAC, which obviously deals with the Middle East crisis, and you barely mentioned the Palestinians. And I think, again, it is a complicated issue and God knows for decades presidents, including President Clinton and others, Jimmy Carter and others have tried to do the right thing. All that I am saying is we cannot continue to be one-sided. There are two sides to the issue." (April 14, 2016 - CNN Democratic Debate in Brooklyn)

“Was Israel's response disproportionate? I think it was. Israel has a 100% -- and no one will fight for that principle more strongly than I will -- has the right to live in freedom, independently and in security without having to be subjected to terrorist attacks. Of course we’re going to support Israel, but you cannot ignore the needs of the Palestinian people. We will not succeed to ever bring peace in that region unless we also treat the Palestinians with dignity and respect.” (April 9, 2016 - CNN's State of the Union)

"But to be successful, we have also got to be a friend not only to Israel, but to the Palestinian people, where in Gaza unemployment today is 44 percent and we have there a poverty rate which is almost as high. So when we talk about Israel and Palestinian areas, it is important to understand that today there is a whole lot of among Palestinians and that cannot be ignored. You can’t have good policy that results in peace if you ignore one side." (March 22, 2016 - Utah campaign speech)

"I cannot tell you exactly how it will look – I do not believe anyone can – but I firmly believe that the only prospect for peace is the successful negotiation of a two-state solution. The first step in that road ahead is to set the stage for resuming the peace process through direct negotiations." (March 22, 2016 - Utah campaign speech)

"But peace also means security for every Palestinian. It means achieving self-determination, civil rights, and economic well-being for the Palestinian people. Peace will mean ending what amounts to the occupation of Palestinian territory, establishing mutually agreed upon borders, and pulling back settlements in the West Bank, just as Israel did in Gaza – once considered an unthinkable move on Israel’s part. That is why I join much of the international community, including the U.S. State Department and European Union, in voicing my concern that Israel’s recent expropriation of an additional 579 acres of land in the West Bank undermines the peace process and, ultimately, Israeli security as well." (March 22, 2016 - Utah campaign speech)

"It is absurd for elements within the Netanyahu government to suggest that building more settlements in the West Bank is the appropriate response to the most recent violence. It is also not acceptable that the Netanyahu government decided to withhold hundreds of millions of Shekels in tax revenue from the Palestinians, which it is supposed to collect on their behalf." (March 22, 2016 - Utah campaign speech)

"Peace will also mean ending the economic blockade of Gaza. And it will mean a sustainable and equitable distribution of precious water resources so that Israel and Palestine can both thrive as neighbors." (March 22, 2016 - Utah campaign speech)

"Peace will require strict adherence by both sides to the tenets of international humanitarian law. This includes Israeli ending disproportionate responses to being attacked – even though any attack on Israel is unacceptable." (March 22, 2016 - Utah campaign speech)

"Of course, I strongly object to Hamas’ long held position that Israel does not have the right to exist – that is unacceptable. Of course, I strongly condemn indiscriminate rocket fire by Hamas into Israeli territory, and Hamas’ use of civilian neighborhoods to launch those attacks. I condemn the fact that Hamas diverted funds and materials for much-needed construction projects designed to improve the quality of life of the Palestinian people, and instead used those funds to construct a network of tunnels for military purposes. However, let me also be very clear: I – along with many supporters of Israel – spoke out strongly against the Israeli counter attacks that killed nearly 1,500 civilians and wounded thousands more. I condemned the bombing of hospitals, schools and refugee camps. Today, Gaza is still largely in ruins. The international community must come together to help Gaza recover. That doesn’t mean rebuilding factories that produce bombs and missiles – but it does mean rebuilding schools, homes and hospitals that are vital to the future of the Palestinian people." (March 22, 2016 - Utah campaign speech)

"I do not accept the idea that the “pro-Israel” position was to oppose the [Iranian nuclear] deal. Preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon will strengthen not only the United States’ security, but Israel’s security as well." (March 22, 2016 - Utah campaign speech)

"The truth is there are good people on both sides who want peace, And the other truth is there despots and liars on both sides who benefit from continued antagonism." (March 22, 2016 - Utah campaign speech)

“For decades now, there has been hatred and warfare in the Middle East. All I can tell you is I will make every single effort to bring rational people on both sides [of the Israel/Arab conflict] together, so that hopefully we can have through a level playing field - the United States treating everybody in that region equally - hopefully, and I know that there are people of goodwill in Israel and the Arab communities.” (March 8, 2016 - Dearborn Campaign Rally)

"I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I have a magical solution that has eluded every president. Our goal should be to see more economic assistance to the people in that region rather than just military assistance. I would hope that in years to come the amount of military aid could be reduced and in fact could be substituted with economic aide. There is a lot of economic misery within the Palestinian community.” (September 2015, PATV News)

“Palestinians are entitled to a state of their own and the United States should do what it can to make sure that state has a strong economy. Israel is entitled to live in security, not be attacked.” (August 2015, Campaign Event)

"Has Israel overreacted? Have they bombed U.N. facilities? The answer is yes, and that is terribly, terribly wrong. On the other hand – and there is another hand – you have a situation where Hamas is sending missiles into Israel – a fact – and you know where some of those missiles are coming from. They’re coming from populated areas; that’s a fact. Hamas is using money that came into Gaza for construction purposes – and God knows they need roads and all the things that they need – and used some of that money to build these very sophisticated tunnels into Israel for military purposes.” (August 2014, Washington Post)

“A Zionist? What does that mean? Want to define what the word is? Do I think Israel has the right to exist, yeah, I do. Do I believe that the United States should be playing an even-handed role in terms of its dealings with the Palestinian community in Israel? Absolutely I do. Again, I think that you have volatile regions in the world, the Middle East is one of them, and the United States has got to work with other countries around the world to fight for Israel's security and existence at the same time as we fight for a Palestinian state where the people in that country can enjoy a decent standard of living, which is certainly not the case right now. My long-term hope is that instead of pouring so much military aid into Israel, into Egypt, we can provide more economic aid to help improve the standard of living of the people in that area.” (July 2015, Vox)

“the bottom line is that Israel must have the right to exist in peace and security, just as the Palestinians must have the right to a homeland in which they and they alone control their political system and their economy.” (Bernie Sanders Senate Page)


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Iran Nuclear Deal 

"First, we must counter the destabilizing behavior of Iran’s leaders. But secondly we must also leave the door open to more diplomacy to encourage Iranian moderates and the segments of the Iranian people – especially the younger generations – who want a better relationship with the West. While only a small step in the right direction, I was heartened by the results of the recent parliamentary elections in which Iranian voters elected moderates in what was, in part, a referendum on the nuclear deal." (March 22, 2016 - Utah campaign speech)

"I do not accept the idea that the “pro-Israel” position was to oppose the [Iranian nuclear] deal. Preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon will strengthen not only the United States’ security, but Israel’s security as well." (March 22, 2016 - Utah campaign speech)

"I have no illusion. Of course you are right. Iran is sponsoring terrorism in many parts of the world, destabilizing areas. Everybody knows that. But our goal is, in fact, to try over a period of time to, in fact, deal with our enemies, not just ignore that reality." (February 11, 2016 - Wisconsin Democratic Debate)

I think what we have got to do is move as aggressively as we can to normalize relations– with Iran, understanding that Iran’s behavior in so many ways is something that we disagree with. Their support for terrorism– the anti-American rhetoric that we’re hearing from some of their leadership is something that is not acceptable...I think what we have got to do is move as aggressively as we can to normalize relations– with Iran, understanding that Iran’s behavior in so many ways is something that we disagree with. Their support for terrorism– the anti-American rhetoric that we’re hearing from some of their leadership is something that is not acceptable...Can I tell you that we should open an embassy in Tehran tomorrow? No, I don’t think we should. But I think the goal has got to be, as we have done with Cuba, to move in warm relations with a very powerful and important country in this world.” (January 17, 2016 - Washington Post)

"The [Iran Nuclear Deal] is a victory for diplomacy over saber-rattling and could keep the United States from being drawn into another never-ending war in the Middle East.”(July 2015, Washington Times)

“In terms of Iran, which is what we're dealing with right now, I applaud the President and I applaud Secretary Kerry for their enormously difficult work of trying to reach out an agreement with the P5+1 in Iran, to try to figure out how we can prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, which to me is an absolute imperative, but you do it in a way that doesn't go to war. I get very nervous listening to many of my Republican colleagues who apparently have learned nothing from the war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq, and they're ready to go to war again, that's the simple truth.” (July 2015, Vox)

“While much more work remains to be done this framework is an important step forward. It is imperative that Iran not get a nuclear weapon. It also is imperative that we do everything we can to reach a diplomatic solution and avoid never-ending war in the Middle East. I look forward to examining the details of this agreement and making sure that it is effective ‎and strong.” (April 2015,

Voting Rights

"It's bad New York state election law. What it says to the many hundreds of thousands or more independents who would like to vote tomorrow for me or for anybody else -- they can't participate." (April 18, 2016 - CBS News This Morning Interview)

"Together we are going to end this cowardly voter suppression that Republican governors are imposing on people all across America. If a politician is too cowardly too face the voters, if a politician needs to think that he must suppress the vote in order to win, that politician should get another job." (August 2015, DNC Summer Meeting)

"The time has come for us to stand up and fight back against voter suppression." (August 2015, @BernieSanders)

“The first thing that I want to do is overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, which is a total disaster. Free speech does not equal the ability of people to buy elections, and what I've said is if elected president of the United States, any Supreme Court nomination I make will make it very clear that he or she is going to vote to overturn Citizens United.”(July 2015, Vox)

In speaking about civil rights during the 50th anniversary of the historic civil rights march in Selma, Alabama, Sen. Sanders stated, “ What happened on that bridge that day was a huge step forward for democracy in America. But what is happening right now – not just in the South but all over this country – are efforts by Republican governors and Republican legislatures to make it harder for African-Americans, low-income people and for senior citizens to vote.” (March 2015,

Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

"It is about suing any government, not just Saudi Arabia, that may have been involved in terrorism. Getting the truth out about the role Saudi Arabia may be playing is a good and right thing." (April 18, 2016 – CBS News This Morning Interview)

“As Anderson indicated, there's a lot of blame to go around, and one of the points that I have made is that I believe the Governor of this state should understand that his dereliction of duty was irresponsible. He should resign.”(March 6, 2016 - Flint Michigan Debate)

“What is going is a disgrace beyond belief. As the president of the United States, this is what I would do is if local government does not have the resources -- if state government for whatever reason America shouldn't be poisoned, federal government comes in, federal government acts.”(March 6, 2016 - Flint Michigan Debate)

“I will make a personal promise to you that the EPA and the EPA director that I appoint will make sure that every water system in the United States of America is tested, and that the people of those communities know the quality of the water that they are drinking, and that we are gonna have a plan to rebuild water systems in this country that are unsafe for drinking.”(March 6, 2016 - Flint Michigan Debate)

“I can't sit up here and make judgment over whether or not somebody committed a criminal act. But, I will tell you this that after an investigation, if people, in fact, were found to have committed a criminal act -- I talked to a mother. Imagine this for a second, imagine a mother who had a bright seven-year-old gregarious girl doing well in school. Two years later, that child is now in special education, intellectual capabilities significantly deteriorated. That is a crime against that child, and the people of Flint. And, clearly, people are going to have to be held accountable.”(March 6, 2016 - Flint Michigan Debate)

"People who have been barred from flying on airplanes should not have guns." (December 2015, CBS)

“This inequality goes beyond our economy. It is reflected in our flawed criminal justice system, our broken campaign finance laws, and in the barriers to our voting booths.” (October 2015, AAI NLC)

“At a time when the Arab American community it being profiled by law enforcement, and targeted by right wing extremists, AAI’s mission of fostering civic engagement is exactly what we need.” (October 2015, AAI NLC)

“Black lives matter. And the reason -- the reason those words matter is the African American community knows that on any given day some innocent person like Sandra Bland can get into a car, and then three days later she's going to end up dead in jail, or their kids... are going to get shot. We need to combat institutional racism from top to bottom, and we need major, major reforms in a broken criminal justice system...” (October 2015, CNN Democratic Debate)

“I believe in women’s rights. And the right of a woman to control her own body. I believe in gay rights and gay marriage.” (September 2015, Liberty University)

“I think we have to use drones very, very selectively and effectively. That has not always been the case.” (August 2015, ABC)

“This is what I also believe... Martin Luther King, when he died, when he was assassinated understood, and he was working on a Poor Peoples' March. We have to end institutional racism, but we have to deal with the reality that 50% of the young black kids are unemployed. We have massive poverty in our country. We have an unsustainable level on income and wealth inequality.” (July 2015, NBC)

"When we talk about civil rights, we also have got to understand that poverty and incarceration rates among the African American community is at levels which are almost incomprehensible… Maybe it makes a little bit more sense to start investing in education and jobs, rather than in more incarceration and more jails… You’re seeing just a horrendous attack upon a young generation of people which is an unbelievable human tragedy." (June 2015, Thom Hartmann Show)

“Given the disparity that we’re seeing in income and wealth in this country, it applies even more to the African-American community and to the Hispanic community.” (June 2015, News One)


"This is -- it's a very complicated issue. And here's what the issue is. Cook has very important point to be made. I am very fearful in America about big brother. And that means not only the federal government getting into your emails or knowing what books you're taking out of the library, or private corporations knowing everything there is to know about you in terms of your health records, your banking records, your consumer practices. I worry about that very, very much. On the other hand, what I also worry about is the possibility of another terrorist attack against our country. And frankly, I think there is a middle ground that can be reached. Clearly all of us would be very dismayed if we learned that we could've picked up information about a potential terrorist act and we didn't do that. People would not feel good about this. So I think there has got to be a balance. But count me in as somebody who is a very strong civil libertarian, who believes that we can fight terrorism without undermining our constitutional rights and our privacy rights." (February 19, 2016 - MSBC Townhall)

“Right, what we have got to do there is, among other things, as I was just saying, have Silicon Valley help us to make sure that information being transmitted through the internet, or in other ways– by ISIS, is in fact, discovered. But I do believe we can do that without violating the constitutional and privacy rights of the American people.” (January 17, 2016 - Washington Post)

When asked if he would shut down the NSA surveillance program, Sanders said “Absolutely. Of course. I'd shut down what exists right now is that virtually every telephone call in this country ends up in a file at the NSA. That is unacceptable to me. But it's not just government surveillance. I think the government is involved in our e-mails; is involved in our websites. Corporate America is doing it as well. If we are a free country, we have the right to be free. Yes, we have to defend ourselves against terrorism, but there are ways to do that without impinging on our constitutional rights and our privacy rights.” (October 2015, CNN Democratic Debate)

“I think Snowden played a very important role in educating the American people to the degree in which our civil liberties and our constitutional rights are being undermined.” (October 2015, CNN Democratic Debate)

“I worry, really worry, that we are moving toward an Orwellian state of society, where Big Brother, whether in the corporate world or in the government, has too much information on the private lives of innocent people.”(June 2015, Katie Couric)

"I voted against the original USA PATRIOT Act and I voted against the reauthorization. The bill on the floor today [USA Freedom Act] is a much better bill, it's a step forward, but it does not go far enough. I have real concerns not only about the role of the US government in impinging on our lives on collecting massive amounts of data about the lives and the telephone calls etcetera of innocent Americans, I also worry about what large corporations are doing. We are living in time where technology has far outpaced public policy in terms of protecting the privacy rights of the American people. This bill is a step forward, it doesn't go anywhere near as far as it should. We have got to be vigorous in going after terrorist and protecting the American people, but we also have to maintain our Constitutional rights and our right to privacy." (June 2, 2015 - MSNBC Interview)

"Do we really want to live in a country where the NSA gathers data on virtually every single phone call in the United States — including as many as five billion cellphone records per day? I don’t. Do we really want our government to collect our emails, see our text messages, know everyone’s internet browsing history, monitor bank and credit card transactions, keep tabs on people’s social networks? I don't.” (May 2015, Time Magazine)

“Our intelligence and law enforcement agencies must be given the tools they need to protect us, but that can be done in a way that does not sacrifice our constitutional rights. If we allow the government to see all of what we read, what we watch and what we hear, then we cannot be called a free society.”(March 2014,

"The information disclosed by Edward Snowden has been extremely important in allowing Congress and the American people to understand the degree to which the NSA has abused its authority and violated our constitutional rights," Sanders said in a statement. "On the other hand, there is no debate that Mr. Snowden violated an oath and committed a crime.” (January 2014, statement)

Community Policing

“The violence that killed Alton Sterling and Philando Castile has become an all too common occurrence for people of color and it must stop. Today African-Americans are almost four times as likely to experience the use of force during encounters with the police. We need real criminal justice reform so that people can walk down the street without worrying about whether they’ll get harassed or shot.” (July 7, 2016 – Twitter)

"Because it was a racist term [referring to the term "super predators"], and everybody knew it was a racist term. Look, much of what Secretary Clinton said was right. We had a crime bill. I voted for it. It had the Violence Against Women Act in it. When as mayor of Burlington, we worked very hard to try to eliminate domestic violence. This took us a good step forward. We're talking about the weapon that killed the children in Sandy Hook. This banned assault weapons, not insignificant. But where we are today is we have a broken criminal justice system. We have more people in jail than any other country on Earth. And in my view, what we have got to do is rethink the system from the bottom on up. And that means, for a start -- and we don't talk about this. The media doesn't talk about it -- you got 51 percent of African-American kids today who graduated high school who are unemployed or underemployed. You know what I think? Maybe we invest in jobs and education for those kids, not jails and incarceration. And I'll tell you what else. And I'll tell you what else I think. And that is, we have got -- and this is the difference between the secretary and myself as I understand it. We have got to have the guts to rethink the so-called war on drugs. Too many lives...Too many lives have been destroyed because people possessed marijuana, millions over a 30-year period. And that is why I believe we should take marijuana out of the federal Controlled Substance Act." (April 14, 2016 - CNN Democratic Debate in Brooklyn)

"We're going to work with state governments all over this country. And you know what? In a very divided Congress, and a very divided politics in America, actually the one area where there is some common ground is conservatives understand that it's insane to be spending $80 billion a year locking up 2.2 million people. With federal and presidential leadership, we will work with state governments to make sure that people are released from jail under strong supervision, that they get the kind of job training and education they need so they can return to their communities. On this one, Errol, actually I think you're going to see progressive and conservative support. We can do it, if we're prepared to be bold."  (April 14, 2016 - CNN Democratic Debate in Brooklyn)

“I would end the militarization of local police departments. I would develop model programs to make police departments look like the communities that they serve.” (March 6, 2016 - Flint Michigan Debate)

“You know how many people, executives on Wall Street have gone to jail? If you are a kid caught with marijuana in Michigan, you get a police record. If you are an executive on Wall Street that destroys the American economy, you pay a $5 billion fine, no police record. If I am elected president, we are going to bring justice back to a broken criminal justice system.” (March 6, 2016 - Flint Michigan Debate)

"This mandatory sentencing, a very bad idea. It takes away discretion from judges. We have got to demilitarize local police departments so they do not look like occupying armies. We have got to make sure that local police departments look like the communities they serve in their diversity. And, where we are failing abysmally is in the very high rate of recidivism we see. People are being released from jail without the education, without the job training, without the resources that they need to get their lives together, then they end up -- we're shocked that they end up back in jail again. So, we have a lot of work to do."(February 11, 2016 - Wisconsin Democratic Debate)

"What we have to do is end over-policing in African- American neighborhoods. The reality is that both the African-American community and the white community do marijuana at about equal rates. The reality is four times as many blacks get arrested for marijuana. Truth is that far more blacks get stopped for traffic violations. The truth is that sentencing for blacks is higher than for whites. We need fundamental police reform, clearly, clearly, when we talk about a criminal justice system. I would hope that we could all agree that we are sick and tired of seeing videos on television of unarmed people, often African-Americans, shot by police officers. What we have got to do is make it clear that any police officer who breaks the law will, in fact, be held accountable." (February 11, 2016 - Wisconsin Democratic Debate)

We’ve gotta move to a community police– police (UNINTEL). And fourthly we have got to make our police departments look like the communities they serve in their diversity.” (January 17, 2016 - Washington Post)

“…when police officers out in a community do illegal activity, kill people who are unarmed, who should not be killed, they must be held accountable.” (November 2015, CBS Democratic Debate)

“If we want to end institutional racism in this country and close loopholes no racial profiling by law enforcement, we must join together to demand change.” (October 2015, AAI NLC)

“The fight has got to be to create police departments which are well trained to reflect the demographics of their communities. We’ve got to get military equipment out of cities so that police departments are not looked at as occupying forces.” (June 2015, Thom Hartmann Show)

“Anybody who thinks we’re anywhere near where we should be in terms of creating a non-discriminatory society is dead wrong… Issues of blatant racism, of police brutality… that has got to end. And what has got to end is the fact that police departments around this country cannot act as occupying forces. They have to be seen as being part of the community. While I was mayor of the city of Burlington, we moved toward community policing, which does just that. It makes the police department part of the community, not an outside force coming in… When a police officer breaks the law, when young black people are beaten up or sometimes killed, that is clearly unacceptable and police officers who commit these crimes must be punished.” (June 2015, Thom Hartmann Show)

Bigoted Speech: Instances of Condemnation and/or Use

*The Arab American Institute is leading a campaign to hold public officials accountable for their bigoted rhetoric this election cycle. Join us by signing our Pledge to Combat Bigotry, and use #NoBigotry on social media to hold candidates accountable and thank candidates who stand against it.*

"It’s important we not succumb to bigotry. We are fighting a terrorist organization killing innocent people. We are not fighting a religion." (March 22, 2016 - Twitter)

“This is what I think. I think that the American people are never going to elect a president who insults Mexicans, who insults Muslims, who insults women, who insults African-Americans. And let us not forget that several years ago, Trump was in the middle of the so- called birther movement, trying to delegitimize the president of the United States of America.”(3/9/16 - Univision Debate)

"America's first black president cannot and will not be succeeded by a hatemonger who refuses to condemn the KKK." (February 27, 2016 - Twitter)

"And somebody like a Trump comes along and says, 'I know the answers. The answer is that all of the Mexicans, they're criminals and rapists, we've got to hate the Mexicans. Those are your enemies. We hate all the Muslims, because all of the Muslims are terrorists. We've got to hate the Muslims.'Meanwhile, the rich get richer....I believe we stand together to address the real issues facing this country, not allow them to divide us by race or where we come from. Let's create an America that works for all of us, not the handful on top." (December 19, 2015 - ABC News Debate)

When asked about Trump claiming that thousands of Arabs were cheering in New Jersey when 9/11 happened, Sanders said, “I have not heard any evidence of this happening… What I get concerned about is this growth of Islamophobia in this country. This desire to win votes by scapegoating this group of people." (November 2015, CNN)

“I will do everything that I can to rid this country of the ugly stain of racism that has existed for far too many years….Our job is to build a nation in which we all stand together as one people. If we stand for anything we have got to stand together and end all forms of racism and I will lead that effort as president of the United States.” (October 2015, George Mason University)

"This country has experienced racism for hundreds of years. I would have hoped that by the year 2015 leading candidates for president like Mr. Trump would campaign on their ideas as to how they can address our serious problems, and not by trying to divide the country with racist and demagogic appeals. Clearly Trump is scapegoating the Hispanic community. Immigrants are not responsible” (September 2015, Iowa Campaign Event)

"It's pathetic. Donald Trump was in fact one of the leaders of the so-called "Birther" movement questioning whether the President was born in the United States of America. It's time we get beyond that. It's time we ended racism in our country. My father came from Poland, no one asks for my birth certificate. The President was born in Hawaii, he's an American." (September 2015, CBS)

"The ridiculous arrest of Ahmed and awful comments at @realDonaldTrump's rally show us we must stand strong against anti-Muslim bigotry." (September 2015, Twitter)

"Trump must apologize to the president and American people for continuing the lie that the president is not an American and not a Christian." (September 2015, Twitter)

"Let’s stop the racism. Let’s stop the xenophobia." (September 2015, Twitter)

"One of the demands of my campaigns is that we think big and not small...that we do not accept this right wing worldview. We cannot allow them [Republicans] to divide us up by race, by gender, or whether we're gay or whether we're straight, by whether we were born in America or someplace else. If we stand together there is nothing that we cannot accomplish." (August 2015, DNC Summer Meeting)

Immigration Reform

“Today's deadlocked immigration ruling means that more than 4 million aspiring Americans in the United States will be left waiting for much-needed answers to our broken immigration system. We cannot let their future, and the future of so many more vulnerable people, fall into the bigoted hands of Donald Trump.” (June 23, 2016 - Statement)

“I oppose the painful and inhumane business of locking up and deporting families who have fled horrendous violence in Central America and other countries. Sending these people back into harm’s way is wrong. I urge President Obama to use his executive authority to protect families by extending Temporary Protective Status for those who fled from Central America.” (May 12, 2016 – Campaign Statement)

"I think the secretary and I mostly, I think, agree on this issue. Look, in this country, immigration reform is a very hot debate. It's divided the country. But I would hope very much, that as we have that debate, we do not, as Donald Trump and others have done, resort to racism and xenophobia and bigotry.”(March 9, 2016 - Univision Debate)

“Now I happen to agree with President Obama on many, many issues. I think he has done a great job as president of the United States. He is wrong on this issue of deportation. I disagree with him on that.  So to answer your question, no, I will not deport children from the United States of America.”(March 9, 2016 - Univision Debate)

“This idea of suddenly, one day or maybe a night, rounding up 11 million people and taking them outside of this country is a vulgar, absurd idea that I would hope very few people in America support.”(March 9, 2016 - Univision Debate)

"And let me say this also. Somebody who is very fond of the president, agrees with him most of the time, I disagree with his recent deportation policies. And I would not support those. Bottom line is a path towards citizenship for 11 million undocumented people, if Congress doesn't do the right thing, we use the executive orders of the president."  (February 11, 2016 - Wisconsin Democratic Debate)

"We've got 11 million undocumented people in this country. I have talked to some of the young kids with tears rolling down their cheeks, are scared to death that today they may or their parents may be deported. I believe that we have got to pass comprehensive immigration reform, something that I strongly supported. I believe that we have got to move toward a path toward citizenship. I agree with President Obama who used executive orders to protect families because the Congress, the House was unable or refused to act." (February 11, 2016 - Wisconsin Democratic Debate)

In a memo leaked from his office, Sanders wrote, “Unlike the O’Malley platform, the Sanders platform speaks to providing deferred action to undocumented immigrants engaged in labor disputes, eliminating the ‘significant misdemeanor’ bar in enforcement, and providing discretion for immigrants with non-immigration convictions, such as identity theft, driving without a license felonies, and survival crimes… [Sanders] outlines what a roadmap to citizenship should encompass.” (November 2015, Politico)

In his new immigration policy, Sanders said he “will expand the use of humanitarian parole to ensure the return of unjustly deported immigrants. The United States must do the right thing and guarantee the swiftest possible reunification of these broken families.” (November 2015,

In his new immigration policy, Sanders said he “would expand the Administration’s parole-in-place policies to include undocumented relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents and also provide deferred action for relatives who came to the U.S. on a visa but fell out of status. Today, this policy is only available to current and aspiring service members and their families. Expanding parole-in-place would eliminate the barriers that prevent certain relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents from obtaining lawful permanent resident status (or a “green card”) under federal law.” (November 2015,

“Let me be very clear in saying that it is not an American value for Donald Trump or anyone else in this country to refer to people from Mexico as ‘rapists’ and ‘criminals.' That is old-fashioned racism, and we will not tolerate it... Undocumented workers are doing the extremely difficult work of harvesting our crops, building our homes, cooking our meals and caring for our children... They are part of the fabric of our country.” (November 2015, Campaign Stop in Nevada)

"The bottom line is that we cannot, and we should not, sweep up millions of men, women and children — many of whom have been here for years — and throw them out of the country. We need a path to citizenship to bring 11 million people out of the shadows." (November 2015, Campaign Stop in Nevada)

“…when you have 11 million undocumented people in this country, we need comprehensive immigration reform, we need a path toward citizenship, we need to take people out of the shadows." (October 2015, CNN Democratic Debate)

On voting against immigration reform in 2007, Sanders said, “I voted against that piece of legislation because it had guest-worker provisions in it which the Southern Poverty Law Center talked about being semi-slavery. Guest workers are coming in, they're working under terrible conditions, but if they stand up for their rights, they're thrown out of the country.” (October 2015, CNN Democratic Debate)

“Until we finally pass comprehensive reform – we must be aggressive in pursuing policies that are human and sensible and that keep families together. I strongly support the administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA is a good first step, but it should be expanded.” (June 2015, CNN)

“We cannot, and we should not, be talking about sweeping up millions of men, women and children, many of whom have been in this country for years. And we cannot allow a continuation of this ridiculous idea that suddenly we are going to throw millions of people out of this country. That is wrong and that type of discussion must end now.” (June 2015, CNN)

“It is time to bring our neighbors out of the shadows. It is time to give them legal status. It is time to create a reasonable path to citizenship.” (June 2015, CNN)