Sanders: Americans' Health Is 'Most Important,' But He's Not Ready to Cancel Rallies

By Susan Jones | March 9, 2020 | 10:20am EDT
Senator Bernie Sanders speaks to supporters at a campaign rally in Minneapolis earlier this year. (File Photo by KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images)
Senator Bernie Sanders speaks to supporters at a campaign rally in Minneapolis earlier this year. (File Photo by KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images)

( - Given concerns about coronavirus contagion, "At what point will it not be worth the risk of having rallies?" CNN's Jake Tapper asked Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday.

"That's a good question," Sanders replied:

And all that I can tell you, Jake, is, we are in communications with public health officials wherever we go. Yesterday, we had a rally in Chicago, Grant Park. We have 15,000 people out.

Now, I love rallies. But your point is well-taken. We will not endanger the health of anybody in this country. And I think there are many organizations, the NBA being one, theaters all over this country. I mean, this -- we are watching this thing very, very carefully.

What is most important is the health of the American people. And we are in constant contact with public health officials and getting their advice.

Appearing a short time later on NBC's "Meet the Press," Sanders was asked a similar question about whether he should be holding large rallies right now:

Well, that's a decision -- we just held a rally in Chicago yesterday as it happens. We had about 15,000 people out. And what I will tell you, we are talking to public health officials all over this country. And obviously, what is most important to us is to protect the health of the American people.

This is an issue, obviously, not just for our campaign, this is an issue for the National Basketball Association, it's an issue for every organization in this country that has large events. So, all I can tell you is that is an issue that we are looking at and we are talking to public health officials.

Host Chuck Todd followed up: "I was just going to say, who makes that call for you? I mean...if a public health official in Michigan says, know you what, I know you have a big rally scheduled here, wherever it is, if they say don't do it, you're not going to do it?"

"Look," Sanders said, "we're not going to -- obviously, we're not going to endanger the health of anybody in this country. But again, this is an issue that every organization, every candidate has got to deal with."

On a more personal note, CNN's Tapper asked Sanders if he should be limiting travel and avoiding crowds, given his age and heart health history:

"Well, in the best of all possible worlds, maybe," Sanders said. "But right now, we're running as hard as we can. We did three rallies yesterday. We're doing two rallies today. I have been working really, really hard.

"Look, this is the most consequential election in the modern history of the United States of America. Trump, in my view, is a president who is a liar, who is a -- running a corrupt administration, who does not understand the Constitution of the United States, who thinks he's above the law.

"He has to be beaten. And I believe I am the strongest candidate to do that. And I'm going to work as hard as I can to make sure that we win this Democratic nomination and that we defeat Trump."


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