Sanders to be sincere through the audience, gracious come his autonomous opponents, and also as prickly as ever to his Fox News hosts.

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autonomous presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) participates in a Fox News town hall top top April 15, 2019, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Note Makela/Getty images
Bernie Sanders’s Fox News town hall, i m sorry aired Monday night, proved that contrary to the id of plenty of of his detractors (and some of his supporters), the vermont senator really does have more than one rhetorical mode.

There was the setting he provided for the town hall part, and the setting he offered for the Fox News component — represented by anchors Bret Baier and also Martha MacCallum, who liberally interspersed concerns from the audience with questions of their own.

When speaking straight to audience members or to the TV audience watching at home, Sanders was sincere and also open. Once asked around President Donald Trump, he spoke v emotion about how he hoped everyone might agree a “pathological liar” need to not it is in president; in his closeup of the door statement, he virtually begged for much more comity in the country, without backing off his insistence that the rich have to do an ext to carry out for working families.

When speak to Baier and MacCallum, but — or, in a couple of moments, straight to the Fox News-watcher-in-chief — Sanders was together prickly together you’d expect. “The president watches your network a bit, right?” he needled. That hectored the hosts for making more money 보다 he did. The huffed the he’d give fair answers only if asked fair questions.

The uncomfortable dynamic in between Sanders and also the hosts periodically served to sharpen intellectual differences. Beforehand in the hourlong city hall, Baier asked even if it is Sanders’s millionaire status (earned, he said, through the success the his recent book) proved that capitalism worked; Bernie tartly comment “no,” then, after a pause, launched right into a mini-lecture around the responsibility to ensure a minimum standard of living for the least wealthy in America.

More often, though, the was simply uncomfortably tense. And also that worked great for Sanders.

It to be Bernie’s group — to the Fox anchors’ obvious dismay

For one thing, the audience was on his side.

After Sanders answer an audience question around why government-provided versus private-sector health treatment by outlining his health treatment proposal, Baier made decision to poll the audience about it, asking world if they’d favor it to their current, private-sector-provided health and wellness insurance. (That frame evokes Barack Obama’s well known promise the “If you favor your healthcare, you can keep it” — something conservatives and Fox News frequently suggest to as a symbol of Obamacare’s damaged promises.)

The vote ... Did not go the way Baier shows up to have actually thought it would.


Bret Baier simply polled the Bernie town Hall audience that would be ready to move to #MedicareForAll. The backfired spectacularly. Pic.twitter.com/dQJ9gfQ137

— jordan (

It’s evident that Fox didn’t stack the city hall with conservatives or human being who hated Bernie Sanders; if the first questioner to be a student organizer through the conservative youth organization turning Point USA, the 2nd was a progressive organizer who’d campaigned for Hillary Clinton.

But Baier and also MacCallum’s inquiries were often rooted in the conservative assumptions that a stereotypical Fox News viewer could have: that cutting the defense budget would “send a message” come other nations that the United claims is weak, or that migrant asylum seekers “have to go somewhere” due to the fact that there’s no room for them in border areas (and therefore, implicitly, the they must go come sanctuary cities). Sometimes, Sanders merely dodged them without any kind of newsworthy gaffes or saying anything that democratic primary voters might disagree with.

Sometimes, that fired right earlier and challenged the question. “Why room you for this reason shocked through that?” he tested MacCallum throughout a back-and-forth about paying because that his health treatment proposal. As soon as Baier defined Sanders together a “staunch supporter of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar” throughout what was claimed to be a 15-second “lightning round,” Sanders spent at least 15 seconds rejecting the premise — “Hold it, organize it, organize it. I have talked to her around twice in my life” — before affirming the he supported the best of a “Muslim member the Congress not to be attacked every single day in outrageous, racialism remarks.”

By the finish of the town hall, audience members were booing the occasional Baier or MacCallum follow-up, also doing call-and-response through Sanders.

Maybe this proved the central point the Sanders’ project rhetoric: the the American world writ large, no just progressive Democrats, really perform want the federal government to guarantee them a particular standard of living. Possibly it simply proved that Sanders is a good politician who’s expert at presenting his desired policies in a way that sounds good to people.

Either way, Sanders looked like a frontrunner — which, if you look at the polls, is exactly what the is. Sanders lags behind former Vice president Joe Biden in some polls, however Biden hasn’t however officially claimed his candidacy; if Biden somehow decides not to run, polling experts say Sanders can inherit a large chunk the his supporters, making him the prohibitive favorite.

That’s a very unusual place for a politician who has won national fame by specifying himself versus other Democrats. And also it’s an awkward fit through his gruffly persona. Sanders’s prickliness seems cautious when he is punching increase in the polls; yet when there’s nobody to beat up at, a combative perspective can come off as ungenerous or also bullying.

The Fox News hosts provided the perfect foil.

Sanders directed his irritations in ~ them, providing the audience lot of of the authentic-seeming “Bernie from Brooklyn” without in reality being excited with any type of potential voters, and without speak anything an adverse about any kind of of his other Democrats also running because that the presidency. As soon as MacCallum invite him to strike Biden as a centrist or south Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg for suggesting Sanders can be also old, Sanders demurred — stating that Biden was a friend and also that the primary was for voters to listen differences and also make up your minds, or half-joking about his far-off past together a long-distance runner.

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The answer gave the impression of Sanders floating above the fray, frontrunner-style. However he wasn’t. He was fighting MacCallum and Fox News. And also in the same way that one could win a controversy — however not a usual town room — the won.


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