Donald Trump lashed out at Bernie Sanders on Monday, after the Democrat argued he might pull votes from the Republican front-runner.
Trump’s retort? That he’s actually converting Sanders supporters to team Trump.
At first glance, the pair seem polar opposites: Trump advocates for building a massive wall to keep out immigrants and banning Muslims from entering the country, whereas Sanders advocates for a broad plan that welcomes immigrants and helps them assimilate. And that’s just one policy difference.
But both candidates are fueled by voters’ angst and dissatisfaction. Each argues that the system is rigged against the middle class and they are appealing to voters who feel disenfranchised from the political cycle and who lack traditional loyalties to one party or another. Both have galvanized the largest crowds of the 2016 cycle, drawing thousands to massive rallies where each makes the case that dramatic, systemic change is needed to fix the country’s problems.
Despite their key differences on who is to blame and how to fix it, they may well be drawing from the same pool of voters.
It’s a fact that seems to infuriate Trump, though he seems keen on ensuring that middle class supporters seem him as their ally.
Trump has said many, many times that wages in the U.S. are too high (as The Daily Beast’s Gideon Resnick pointed out to Trump here).
Sanders made it clear over the weekend that he sees the similarities — and the potential — for his campaign.
“Many of Trump’s supporters are working-class people and they are angry, and they’re angry because they’re working longer hours for lower wages, they’re angry because their jobs have left this country and gone to China or other low-wage countries,” Sanders said. “I think what Trump has done successfully, I would say, is take that anger, take that anxiety about terrorism and say to a lot of people in this country, look, the reason for these problems is because of Mexicans, and he says they’re all criminals and rapists! And he says about the Muslims, they’re all terrorists!”
The Democratic candidate argued that he can draw those voters to his side.
“I think for his working class and middle class supporters, I think we can make the case that if we really want to address the issues that people are concerned about,” Sanders continued, “that we need policies that bring us together that take on the greed of Wall Street, the greed of corporate America, and create a middle class that works for all of us rather than an economy that works just for a few.”