Sanders vows to ‘expose the Republican Party’ in national tour

Steve Peoples, AP writer

Promising to “expose the Republican Party for what it is,” Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders predicted that President Donald Trump would be a one-term president as the liberal icon prepared to launch a nationwide tour to rally Democrats.

“In terms of the first three months in office, Donald Trump is the least popular president in the history of polling,” Sanders told The Associated Press. He cited the Republican president’s support for a healthcare bill that he said strips insurance from millions of Americans, tax reform that cuts taxes for the rich and budget cuts that disproportionately affect the poor.

“I do not believe that if Trump continues these policies that he’s going to be re-elected. Nor do I think that the Republicans are going to do well in 2018,” Sanders said. “The momentum right now is with the progressive movement in this country. And I think the Republicans are on the defensive and will be on the defensive increasingly.”

The comments come as Sanders prepares to launch a tour next week with Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez. Included in the tour are visits to some toss-up and Republican-leaning states where Democrats struggled in the last election. The tour opens Monday with a rally in Portland, Maine, followed by appearances over the subsequent four days in Kentucky, Florida, Texas, Nebraska, Utah, Arizona and Nevada.

It is an aggressive schedule reminiscent of the 75-year-old senator’s recent presidential campaign. He failed to wrestle the nomination from Hillary Clinton in 2016, but developed a large and passionate following from his party’s liberal base.

The Democratic Party hit bottom last fall after an election season in which they lost the presidency and could not take control of the House or Senate despite favorable conditions in some cases. Sanders acknowledged his party’s failures in 2016 and said the upcoming tour would “begin the process of fighting back.”

He also cited the recent special election in Kansas, where Republicans scored a narrow victory over a little-known Democrat in a district strongly dominated by the GOP in the past.

“The Republicans had to spend money like crazy at the end to beat him,” Sanders said. “I think that’s a very good omen for the future.”