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Democratic socialist Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina joined Fox News Media and The Senate Project for an “Oxford-style” debate on key political issues.
The full debate is streaming on Fox Nation and will air Saturday, June 18 at 7 PM ET on Fox News Channel.
On Monday, Fox News presented some of the most engaging clips from the forum, held at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate, in Massachusetts.
As anchor Bret Baier noted, the debate is a nod to the across-the-aisle political relationship of Kennedy, a Democrat, and the late Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, a Republican. Hatch once remarked that when he and Kennedy found agreement, everyone else in the chamber would scramble “out of the way.”
Sanders pronounced the American working class to be in “serious trouble” as the country moves toward “an oligarchic form of society where a small number of billionaires not only have extraordinary wealth [and] extraordinary political power.”
In response, Graham pointed out that the party Sanders caucuses with controls the trifecta of the House, Senate and White House – claiming it shows the left-wing agenda “isn’t working” rather than the claim it isn’t being instituted.
Sanders objected to one parcel of Graham’s reply, in that the Vermonter claimed he does not support defunding police, as Graham said.
During a later back and forth, when Sanders challenged Graham and the GOP to stand up to Donald Trump’s claims of a fraudulent 2020 election, Graham – who said Joe Biden is the legitimate president, while citing “mail-in… chicanery” – proffered he would speak out against the wing of the party that doubts electoral veracity if Sanders took a higher-profile stand against his left’s “defund the police” movement.
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Sanders said he understands the work of law enforcement as a former mayor of Burlington, his state’s largest city, and that he has never called for direct “defunding” as many in his caucus have, but instead for more “community-based” policing with a force that “reflects” the community they serve.
Sanders said election-denialism is one of the “greatest threats to democracy” and that it is still being spearheaded by Trump.
He went on to criticize Graham for not speaking out on what he believes instead to be one of the biggest U.S. crises – climate change.
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Graham replied he believes the phenomenon is “real” but that the Democrats have taken their stance on the issue to such an extreme that they appear intent to destroy the fossil fuel industry, evidenced by the U.S. energy crisis.
“Your party has made us miserable when it comes to filling up our tank,” Graham said.
Sanders replied the solution is to haul the oil executives to the White House and demand a “windfall profits tax” to curb what he sees as artificially inflated prices “ripping off the American people.”
Graham said the sky-high prices are not the oil industry’s fault, but instead the result of Biden’s continued restrictions of energy speculation and pipelines.
“We should be producing more oil and gas here. And when you say us, the oil companies fault – bull – they’re in a business. The reason they’re not producing more is because it’s impossible to produce more under this administration,” he said. “And if Bernie was in charge and people like him, it’ll get worse, not better.”
When Graham referenced socialism, Sanders offered a quip about “red-baiting” – the practice most notably utilized by Sen. Joseph McCarthy, R-Wis., to expose or identify public figures as Communists or Communism-sympathetic.
“I’m a democratic socialist. OK?” Sanders replied, adding his platform is not uncommon around the world.
In one area of agreement, Sanders told Graham he would consider supporting the Senate’s gun control legislation outline, even though it doesn’t go far enough in his eyes.
Graham replied the news sounded “encouraging.”