Sanders: 'Of course' I would use tariffs as president

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Energy: Biden seeks to reassert US climate leadership | President to 'repeal or replace' Trump decision removing protections for Tongass | Administration proposes its first offshore wind lease sale On The Money: Democrats wary of emerging bipartisan infrastructure deal, warn of time crunch Out-of-touch Democrats running scared of progressives MORE (I-Vt.), a top-tier Democratic presidential candidate, said he would use tariffs as one tool negotiating with China while clarifying that he thinks President Trump's behavior on the trade negotiations has been "irrational" and is damaging the global economy.

Sanders said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" that tariffs are one tool a president has and "of course" he would use them if he was president. 

"If it is used in a rational way within the context of a broad, sensible trade policy, it is one tool that's available," Sanders said, adding that he "helped lead the effort against permanent normal trade relations with China and NAFTA [the North American Free Trade Agreement]."


"We need a rational trade policy today, not what Trump is doing by tweet," the senator said. 

Trump's actions have been "totally irrational" and are "destabilizing the entire world economy," Sanders said. 

"You do not make trade policy by announcing today that you're going to raise tariffs by X-percent, and the next day by Y-percent, by attacking the person you appointed as head of the Federal Reserve as an enemy of the American people, by denouncing the president of China, who last year you really loved as a great leader," he said.

"This kind of instability and irrationality on the part of the president is causing very serious harm to the entire world economy. Yes, we need a new trade policy."

Trump and administration officials have dismissed warnings that the tariffs on China have caused harm to Americans, claiming they are only hurting China. 

Trump appeared to soften on the issue Sunday at the Group of Seven summit in France, telling reporters he had "second thoughts" on the tariffs.

But White House officials later said Trump heard the question wrong and meant he had second thoughts about further tariffs, not the ones that he announced.