The growing popularity of Democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) proves that Democrats, not Republicans, have been “radicalized” over the course of the 2016 presidential election, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said on Wednesday.
Speaking in front of an audience in South Carolina, the Republican presidential candidate pushed back against claims that Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) have driven the Republican party toward the radical right. Those claims were sparked after Trump proposed policies like banning all Muslims from entering the United States and killing the families of terrorists, and Cruz proposed “carpet bombing” ISIS.
But according to Rubio, it’s the Democrats who have gone too far.
“The Democratic Party has been taken over by radical left-wing elements,” Rubio said, adding he doesn’t understand why people have been calling out Republicans for moving right-ward during the election while Sanders — an avowed democratic socialist — won New Hampshire and is gaining in national polls. “The Democratic party has been radicalized,” he said.
Rubio also urged voters who supported Sanders’ agenda to move to another country.
“If you want to live in a socialist country, why not move to a socialist country?” He asked. “We want to be America.”
After Sanders’ New Hampshire win earlier this month, Republican presidential candidates have been increasingly mentioning him on the campaign trail. For example, while Ted Cruz used to only name Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in his speeches about who he’d like to debate after the primary, he now includes Sanders in there as well. “I cannot wait to stand on that debate stage with Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders,” Cruz said on Sunday.
Sanders’ outspoken identity as a Democratic socialist has also come under fire from many Republican candidates — and Rubio was no exception. On Wednesday, Rubio also said someone like Trump or Cruz would be a better choice for the presidency because “none of [them are] a socialist.”
In a speech last November, Sanders attempted to explain the democratic socialist ideology, which he said is not the same as being a regular socialist. He said that the ideology is still a democracy that can live in a capitalist society, but one that “can not be based just on the worship of money.”
“The next time you hear me attacked as a socialist — like tomorrow — remember this: I don’t believe government should take over the grocery store down the street, or own the means of production,” Sanders said at the time. “But I do believe that the middle class and the working families of this country who produce the wealth of this county deserve a decent standard of living, and that their incomes should go up, not down.”