5 Ways Bernie Sanders And Donald Trump Are More Alike Than You Think

Feb 8, 2016
Originally published on February 8, 2016 5:03 pm

The two hottest candidates heading into the New Hampshire primary Tuesday are Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. On the face of it, the candidates and their messages couldn't be more different.

One is a billionaire businessman; the other, a career politician who rails against billionaires. But Sanders and Trump actually have more in common than you might think.

First, there are are the obvious similarities. They both have trademark hair and were raised in New York City. And then there's the way they say "huge":

But there's more. Here are five ways the candidates sound similar.

Trump and Sanders are both channeling anger from people who feel the American dream is no longer within reach:

This message is working for both candidates, generating excitement among people, many of whom haven't been in engaged in the political process before.

They are filling concert halls and sports arenas all over the country. Among the people in those crowds, there's a feeling that the political system is rigged, there's so much money in politics. Sanders and Trump both speak to that in the way they've run their campaigns. Trump, who is funding his campaign with his own money and small-dollar contributions, decries the influence of fat-cat donors and superPACs. So does Sanders, who is funding his campaign with more than 3.5 million individual, mostly small-dollar, contributions:

When it comes to policy, there are huge differences on taxes, immigration and social issues. But there are also times when these two candidates may as well be speaking from the same script:

On a handful of key issues that affect the economic security of working families, the similarities are striking. Take trade, for example:

And while many Republicans talk about privatizing Social Security, and some Democrats have looked at changing the way cost of living is adjusted, Sanders and Trump like it just the way it is or want to make Social Security even more generous.

All these issues where Trump and Sanders overlap speak to the insecurity Americans feel about their futures and their disgust with the current system.

Of course, there's one more thing Trump and Sanders have in common — both say they would love to meet on the ballot in November.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

It seems like we just left Iowa, doesn't it? And already it's time for the New Hampshire primary. That takes place tomorrow. And the two leading candidates there are Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Now, on the face of it, those candidates and their messages could not be more different. One is a billionaire, the other a politician who rails against billionaires. But as NPR's Tamara Keith reports, Sanders and Trump have more in common than you might think.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: There are the obvious similarities. They both have trademark hair, were raised in New York City. And then there's the way they say huge.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: I have a huge company.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BERNIE SANDERS: Huge compensation packages.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: And it's a huge humanitarian...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SANDERS: A huge step...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: There is a huge problem with the illegals.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SANDERS: Huge difference...

KEITH: Trump and Sanders are channeling anger from people who feel the American dream is no longer within reach.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: And I could say, oh, I'm not angry. I'm very angry because our country is being run horribly. And I will gladly accept the mantle of anger.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SANDERS: I am angry, and the American people are angry.

KEITH: And this message is working for both candidates, generating excitement among people many of whom haven't been engaged in the political process before. They are filling concert halls and sports arenas all over the country. Among the people in those crowds, there's a feeling that the political system is rigged, that there is so much money in politics. And Sanders and Trump both speak to that in the way they've run their campaigns. Trump, who is funding his campaign with his own money and small dollar contributions, decries the influence of fatcat donors and super PACs as he did Saturday night in the ABC debate.

(SOUNDBITE OF ABC DEBATE)

TRUMP: I don't want their money. I'm going to do the right thing for the American public. I don't want their money. I don't need their money. And I'm the only one up here that can say that.

(SOUNDBITE OF MSNBC DEBATE)

SANDERS: I am very proud to be the only candidate up here who does not have a super PAC, who is not raising huge sums of money on Wall Street or special interests.

KEITH: Bernie Sanders last week at the MSNBC debate.

(SOUNDBITE OF MSNBC DEBATE)

SANDERS: We have raised three and a half million individual contributions, averaging 27 dollars apiece. That is what the political revolution means.

KEITH: When it comes to policy, there are huge differences - on taxes, immigration and social issues. But there are also times when these two candidates may as well be speaking from the same script.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: We infrastructure that we have to fix. We have bridges and roads and tunnels. And everything's falling apart.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SANDERS: We need to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure...

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: ...Invest one trillion dollars in our roads and our bridges and our rail system.

KEITH: On a handful of key issues that affect the economic security of working families, the similarities are striking. Take trade.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: We need fair trade - not free trade. We need fair trade. It's got to be fair.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SANDERS: We need trade policies that are fair for the American worker, fair for poor people around the world and not just designed to make the CEOs of multi-national corporations even richer than they are today.

KEITH: And while many Republicans talk about privatizing Social Security and some Democrats have looked at changing the way the cost of living is adjusted, Sanders and Trump like it just the way it is or want to make Social Security even more generous.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SANDERS: What we must do is say, of course we're not going to cut Social Security, but we are going to expand Social Security benefits.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: We're not going to cut your Social Security, and we're not cutting your Medicare. We're going to take jobs back from all these countries that are ripping us off. We're going to become a wealthy country again, and we're going to be able to save your Social Security.

KEITH: All these issues where Trump and Sanders overlap speak to the insecurity Americans feel about their futures and their disgust with the current system. And here's one more thing Trump and Sanders have in common - both say they would love to meet on the ballot in November. Tamara Keith, NPR News, Manchester, N.H. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.