Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that President Donald Trump's racist tweets about House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings were a "disgrace."
"I think it's unbelievable that we have a President of the United States who attacks American cities, who attacks Americans, who attacks somebody who's a friend of mine — Elijah Cummings — who is one of the most decent and outstanding members of the House of Representatives," Sanders told CNN anchor Jake Tapper. "He fights every day to improve life in his community."
Sanders added, "I do find it interesting that when we have rural Republican districts, the life expectancy is going down, where downtowns are boarded up, where people are struggling. And people are struggling in rural American, they're struggling in urban America, they're struggling in suburban America. Our job is to bring people together, to improve life for all people, not to have a racist president who attacks people because they are African Americans. That is a disgrace and that is why we're going to defeat this president."
When Tapper asked Sanders if he thought Trump's racist tweets would ultimately help him in the 2020 presidential election, the Vermont senator insisted that this was not the case.
"I think at the end of the day the American people understand that — whether you're black, whether you're white, whether you're Latino, Asian American, Native American – what we need is an agenda that works for all of us, and not have a president who divides us up," Sanders told Tapper. "We need health care for all. We need a lower cost for prescription drugs. We need to make public colleges, universities, tuition free. We need to cancel student debt. The American people are behind those issues. They will not accept a president trying to divide us up by the color of our skin or where we were born."
Conservative media outlets like Fox News have implied that Sanders is hypocritical in criticizing Trump, pointing to comments he made in a 2015 interview with reporters, later quoted in the Baltimore Sun, in which he claimed "anyone who took the walk that we took around this neighborhood would not think you’re in a wealthy nation. You would think that you were in a Third World country." He later added, "But today what we're talking about is a community in which half of the people don't have jobs. We're talking about a community in which there are hundreds of buildings that are uninhabitable."
On Saturday Trump tweeted about Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., that he "has been a brutal bully, shouting and screaming at the great men & women of Border Patrol about conditions at the Southern Border, when actually his Baltimore district is FAR WORSE and more dangerous. His district is considered the Worst in the USA. As proven last week during a Congressional tour, the Border is clean, efficient & well run, just very crowded. Cumming District is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess. If he spent more time in Baltimore, maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous & filthy place."
Trump added, "Why is so much money sent to the Elijah Cummings district when it is considered the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States. No human being would want to live there. Where is all this money going? How much is stolen? Investigate this corrupt mess immediately!"
Later on Saturday night the president tweeted, "So sad that Elijah Cummings has been able to do so little for the people of Baltimore. Statistically, Baltimore ranks last in almost every major category. Cummings has done nothing but milk Baltimore dry, but the public is getting wise to the bad job that he is doing!"
The president's attacks on Cummings have continued through Sunday.