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Sanders or Clinton? Two Progressive California Lawmakers Debate Ahead of Today’s Vote

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California Senate President Pro-Tem Kevin de León and Los Angeles City Councilmember Gil Cedillo debate who is the best candidate to take on Donald Trump. De León has backed Hillary Clinton and was with her last night in Long Beach when she was named by AP to be the presumptive Democratic nominee. Gil Cedillo is backing Bernie Sanders.

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StoryNov 17, 2016Sanders & Clinton Supporters Debate the Path Forward for the Democratic Party Under Trump Presidency
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: So, the question is: Who would most effectively do that? And I wanted to ask Gil Cedillo why you’re supporting Bernie Sanders.

COUNCILMEMBER GIL CEDILLO: Well, you know, seldom have we had the opportunity to have such a progressive candidate with his viability, and actually, I believe, on the verge of winning this election. His understanding of the economy and how it works—and how it doesn’t work for working men and women—is critical. His perspectives and policy proposals on immigration are really important to the Latino community, but to the entire nation. His positions on quality education for the nation is critical to our position in the global economy. And his position on healthcare is just so very important for us to join the rest of the industrialized nations of the world as a nation that provides healthcare as a right for every resident of our country. His positions are just compelling for the American people, for the American working class, for immigrants and for communities of color. And so, that’s why I’m so enthusiastic and happy to support the great senator from Vermont.

AMY GOODMAN: What decided it for you, Councilmember Cedillo, when you were making your decision on who to endorse? What was the issue that you felt Bernie Sanders best represented you on?

COUNCILMEMBER GIL CEDILLO: Well, I think the question of viability. I mean, seldom have we seen a progressive candidate, one who is so openly progressive about his positions, uses rhetoric from another era in many instances, in respect, but has policy positions that both the senator and I embrace, and he had the viability. Those early turnouts, his early victories indicated that he was a real, viable candidate. His positions—look, I’ve been an advocate, for example, on driver’s licenses, and the senator, as well, on driver’s licenses in California. It’s unfortunate that in the previous elections, the secretary did not support driver’s licenses in New York—

AMY GOODMAN: Driver’s licenses for?

COUNCILMEMBER GIL CEDILLO: —and intervened to block them. The senator was a proponent of driver’s licenses and worked with the governor of Vermont to make that a reality for immigrant motorists in Vermont. We’ve made it a reality here in California. It’s been very important to deter many of the deportations and the stopping of immigrants on our streets and highways. And so, it’s obviously one area that was very important to both of us. But I think, just in general, the fact that someone could be as progressive, as comprehensive in his global outlook and have viability, I think, was very important for—at least for me.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Kevin de León, as you talk about unifying the party, how do you respond to national polls that suggest that it’s actually Bernie Sanders who might be more effective, might actually have more of a chance against defeating Donald Trump?

SEN. KEVIN DE LEÓN: Well, I think it’s all relative, because if polls show that you can win by 20 points, but another individual can win by 20 points, it becomes relative: How many points do you want to win by? The bottom line is this, is I also have seen polls that show that Hillary Clinton is the strongest candidate against Donald Trump. But let me underscore and emphasize, if you want to win by 10 or 15 points, or 17 or 18 points, it’s all relative, because a victory is a victory. And Hillary Clinton, I believe, is the strongest candidate to take on a very dangerous man.

Gil Cedillo and I are two progressive Democrats who really have moved the ball in California with regard to driver’s license, healthcare for undocumented children—


SEN. KEVIN DE LEÓN: —the DREAM Act, tuition, in-state tuition for undocumented students who have done incredibly well in California. Hillary Clinton has been highly supportive of these policy issues. In fact, just last week on Saturday, she was very clear, very open to the rest of the nation, that she supports comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship, supports DAPA as well as DACA. And within the first 100 days of her presidency, she will move forcefully in the Congress a comprehensive immigration reform that leads a pathway to citizenship. This is resonating throughout the Latino immigrant community throughout the state of California.

I have a lot of respect for Bernie Sanders. In fact, I have a lot of admiration for Bernie Sanders. I think he’s done incredible with regards to this presidential campaign. But the time is now, because the clock is ticking for us to unite as a party to move forward. This is a big tent party. You have progressives. You have those individuals who are pragmatic. You have individuals who are a little more moderate and conservative within the Democratic Party. That is the mosaic diversity of who we are as a political party. But the time is now to move forward to unite, and I do believe that Bernie Sanders will do the right thing. Again, I have a lot of respect and admiration for him. I have a lot of friends who are staff members on his side. Gil Cedillo is a very good friend of mine. He’s a strong supporter of Bernie Sanders since day one. I’ve been a strong supporter since '08 of Hillary Clinton. I'm a progressive individual who’s gotten a lot of work done in California, that we believe is the model for the entire nation, not theoretical, abstract concepts, you know, given in speeches—

AMY GOODMAN: Kevin de León, let me ask—

SEN. KEVIN DE LEÓN: —but rather actually implementing it into real life—

AMY GOODMAN: Let me ask you, last—

SEN. KEVIN DE LEÓN: —the minimum wage, $15 an hour.

AMY GOODMAN: Last night you were with Hillary Clinton when this announcement was made, first by AP and then by NBC News. What was her response, since you were speaking to her? Was she as concerned? Some news reports were saying that the Clinton camp didn’t want this as much as the Sanders camp? They didn’t want this announcement?

SEN. KEVIN DE LEÓN: Well, you know, she is working very hard. I was with her last night in Long Beach at the L.A. Long Beach City College. And she told me that she’s going to work very hard still to get—make sure she gets every single vote in California, in New Jersey and other states, as well. So she is not counting her chickens before they hatch, by no stretch of the imagination. AP as well as NBC will do their own projections. You cannot control the media outlets. Everyone’s out to get the story out first and foremost, shape it. The reality is this: She’s working very hard, she’s taking nothing for granted, until she crosses that finish line tonight. But there is a strong sense of confidence that she will be the presumptive Democratic nominee. And again, let me underscore and emphasize—it sounds like a broken record, but it is what it is—it’s simple math, and it’s time for us to unite as a Democratic Party and move forward to defeat the—

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to the latest—

SEN. KEVIN DE LEÓN: —most dangerous man in politics today, which is Donald Trump.

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