Sanders: Trump has a 'demagogic desire to divide this country'

Sanders: Trump has a 'demagogic desire to divide this country'
© Greg Nash

Vermont Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersMellman: (Mis)interpreting elections Dems to propose legislation to prevent ICE from shackling pregnant women Rasmussen poll: Nearly three-quarters of Dems want 'fresh face' as nominee in 2020 MORE (I) blasted President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want to use 'adversary' to describe Russia Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterms Roby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism MORE's "demagogic desire to divide this country" as he spoke on Wednesday to a group of progressives amid rampant speculation that he's gearing up for a bid against Trump in 2020.

"Above and beyond all that, the thing that disturbs me most about Trump is his demagogic desire to divide this country up based on the color of our skin or the country that we came from or our sexual orientation or our religion or our gender," Sanders said at the We the People Summit, a progressive conference in Washington, D.C., where a handful of possible Democratic presidential contenders were slated to speak.

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"What the president of the United States is supposed to be doing, and in fact, more or less has happened regardless of ideology, is when you are president, you know the job is to bring people together, not divide them up.”

Sanders went on to express bewilderment about "Trump's love ... for authoritarian leaders all over the world," as well as his push to "divide up and destroy the North Atlantic alliance."

That criticism came on the heels of a rough Group of Seven summit last week, where Trump refused to sign the joint statement and blasted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The comment about authoritarian leaders came hours after Trump returned from a landmark meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which Sanders praised as a "positive step."