(JTA) — Former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders called on President-elect Donald Trump to withdraw his appointment of Stephen Bannon to a major White House advisory post.
Sanders, an Independent senator from Vermont, in a statement issued Wednesday decried Bannon’s appointment earlier this week as chief strategist, calling him a “racist individual.” In urging Trump to cut Bannon loose, Sanders joins a number of Jewish organizations and other lawmakers.
Bannon is the former chairman of Breitbart News, a website that Bannon himself called “the platform for the alt-right,” a loose movement of the far right whose followers traffic variously in white nationalism, anti-immigration sentiment, anti-Semitism and a disdain for “political correctness.”
Sanders said in his statement: “This country, since its inception, has struggled to overcome discrimination of all forms: racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia. Over the years we have made progress in becoming a less discriminatory and more tolerant society – and we are not going backward.
“The appointment by President-elect Trump of a racist individual like Mr. Bannon to a position of authority is totally unacceptable. In a democratic society we can disagree all we want over issues, but racism and bigotry cannot be part of any public policy. The appointment of Mr. Bannon by Mr. Trump must be rescinded.”
Sanders lost in the Democratic presidential primary to Hillary Clinton and supported her during the campaign against Trump, including making several appearances for the former secretary of state just prior to Election Day. He was the first Jewish candidate to win major nominating contests.
Sanders announced on Thursday morning that he would not officially join Democratic Party, despite being appointed to a Senate Democratic caucus leadership position the previous day.
Sanders was named chair of outreach for the party, a newly created position, during a closed-door caucus session. In his new position, he will be in charge of reaching out to blue-collar voters who supported Trump, a Republican, in last week’s election, The Hill reported.
“I was elected as an Independent and I will finish this term as an Independent,” Sanders, who has long caucused with the Democrats, said at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, The Hill reported.