“My guest tonight is, as of 4:01 Eastern Time, still a Democratic candidate for president of the United States,” is how Stephen Colbert introduced Bernie Sanders before the candidate walked on to the stage of the Late Show, greeted by cheers that morphed into enthusiastic audience chants of “Bernie! Bernie!” when he sat down.
“Have you gotten used to that yet?” asked Colbert.
“It sounds awfully good,” responded Sanders.
Sanders was taped on the show ahead of a speech he delivered that night, leaving Colbert to ask, “Is there anything you might be saying tonight about the status of your campaign that I would want to talk to you about now and felt cheated if I didn’t get to ask you about because you said it after the show was over? In other words, are you continuing your campaign after tonight?”
Sanders affirmed he was continuing with his campaign, as he did during his speech in New York Thursday night, but talk did turn to basically inevitable idea of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee and the question of Trump trying to poach Sanders supporters.
“Would you like to say anything to your supporters about whether they should vote for Trump?” asked Colbert.
“I don’t have to say that. My supporters are smart enough to know that we do not want a bigot to become president of the United States,” Sanders responded.
Later, Colbert asked Sanders to reflect on his campaign in the we-all-know-this-is-coming-to-an-end-even-though-there’s-been-no-official-call style of recent Sanders interviews.
“Did you expect to get this close to the nomination when you started out? Because I think for some people, part of the joy of watching your campaign was the sort of happy surprise that people were jumping on board with what might be perceived with idealism.”
“It’s not idealism,” Sanders responded. “We went further and faster than I would have predicted. But you know what, you ask ordinary people whether they think it’s appropriate that they have to work two or three jobs, and almost all new wealth and income goes to the top one percent, you know what, most people think that that’s not right. They don’t think we should have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country when we’re seeing the proliferation of millionaires and billionaires… We should not have more people in jail than China.”
“The truth is, these are not radical ideas but they’re not seen on the TV terribly often for a variety of reasons including some of your sponsors.” (Earlier in the interview Colbert had announced a commercial break by quipping, “We have to take a break here to kowtow to my corporate interests.”)
Colbert responded with pretend outrage and a chorus of “heys.” “I’m gonna have Paul Ryan pull the plug here in a second if you don’t …”