Bernie Sanders turns the tables on Trump over 'democratic socialism'

The 2020 contender says the president and his "fellow oligarchs" actually "love corporate socialism."
Image: Democratic Presidential Candidates Attend Capital City Pride Festivities Around Des Moines
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., walks to his vehicle following a campaign stop at the Capital City Pride Fest on June 8, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa.Scott Olson / Getty Images

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By Shaquille Brewster and Adam Edelman

Bernie Sanders will outline his vision of "democratic socialism" on Wednesday, explaining his view that all Americans are guaranteed certain rights, including housing, a job, a secure retirement and more, according to excerpts of the speech released by his campaign.

"We must recognize that in the 21st century, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, economic rights are human rights," Sanders will say, according to the excerpts of what his campaign is billing as a major address. "This is what I mean by democratic socialism."

The Vermont independent senator will urge voters to "take the next step forward and guarantee every man, woman and child in our country" rights to health care, education, a "decent job," affordable housing, a secure retirement and living in a "clean environment," according to the excerpts.

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Trump has repeatedly criticized Sanders for his views, labeling him as "Crazy Bernie" and inaccurately comparing his vision to the version of socialism that was put in place in trouble-plagued Venezuela.

"Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country," Trump said at his State of the Union address in February. "America was founded on liberty and independence — not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country."

Sanders will also call on voters to reject Trump's attacks on his ideology, claiming that the president and his "fellow oligarchs" don't "really oppose all forms of socialism."

"They may hate democratic socialism because it benefits working people, but they absolutely love corporate socialism that enriches Trump and other billionaires," Sanders will say, citing the Great Recession bailouts from the federal government that he said made Wall Street "big government socialists."

Sanders' campaign said that the speech will also call on the American people to reject Trump's "xenophobic and authoritarian policies" and "instead complete the unfinished business of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal."

"The speech is not just about Trump," Sanders' chief of staff Ari Rabin-Havt told NBC News. "There's a collection of interests taking a bigger stand to control politics while working people feel pain and hurt. Democratic socialism is part of the answer for that."

Sanders' identification as a democratic socialist has ignited within the crowded field of Democrats running for president a discussion over what it means to be a socialist and whether the philosophy can coexist with capitalism.

Sanders delivered a similar speech during the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, when he was battling against eventual-nominee Hillary Clinton, saying then that "real freedom must include economic security” and comparing his vision to Roosevelt's.