Sen. Bernie Sanders discusses the issues driving his campaign

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) presidential campaign will return to his home state for the first time since he entered the race. But first, he sat down for a one-on-one interview.

Sen. Bernie Sanders sits down for a one-on-one interview with Gray DC Reporter Kyle Midura (Source: Gray DC)

Sanders said there’s a big difference between this race and 2016, chiefly, over just a few years his ideas went from fringe to mainstream. "The issues we are talking about are issues that speak to the needs of working families, and the middle-class, and low-income people,” said Sanders.

His campaign pitches include criminal justice and immigration reform, tightening gun laws, and fighting for racial and gender equality but the primary theme continues to be economic justice. Sanders promises crackdowns on big banks, big-agriculture, and wealthy tax-evaders as well as jobs, fewer financial traps, and better services for those struggling for their financial survival.

“If you look at what's going on in the economy in general, it is doing phenomenally well for the richest people in this country while tens of millions of people continue to struggle economically,” Sanders said.

He calls for progressive tax hikes to invest in infrastructure, tackling climate change, education, and expanding Medicare coverage to every American – not just those 65 and older.

“This is not a radical idea,” Sanders said of Medicare-for-All. “All I want to see us do is what Canada and every other major country on Earth is doing," he said, "guaranteeing healthcare to all people and end the absurdity of us spending twice as much per person on healthcare as the people of any other country.”

Experts do describe Sanders’ proposed plan as more generous than any other government-run plan in the world, in large part because it would cover vision and dental benefits.

The Vermont Independent says half-measures won’t get the job done. But, it’s unclear if his big ideas are politically-realistic.

“If Democrats don't have complete control of Congress, can you get your ideas through?,” we asked. “I think we can, and I'll tell you why,” Sanders replied, “if people engage and stand up and fight back… we will win.”

It’s the same grassroots theory he’s counting on along the campaign trail and at the ballot box.

If Sanders does become the next president, he would be the oldest person ever elected to the office. Along with the questions raised about his age, some critics wonder whether he can be the face of the modern Democratic party.

“Some of your critics have suggested you’re too old, too white, too male,” we began to ask Sanders. Before we could finish, Sanders put his hand to his ear. “What’d you say?,” he asked in a loud voice followed by a laugh.

“No, look, I feel great,” he said. "If people consider age a factor that’s fine,” Sanders added, “I would hope people look at the totality of one’s life, and experience, and I think if they do that, I think we’ll do pretty well."

Sanders will hold a rally in Vermont Saturday on the Statehouse lawn. From there he’ll make stops in New Hampshire and Nevada, key early primary states.

The full interview can be seen in the video tab above.

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