With campaign rallies scrapped in response to the coronavirus, millions of viewers tuned in for Bernie Sanders’ fireside chat on Saturday night.
Sanders was joined by campaign manager Faiz Shakir on the stream. “This campaign, more so than any campaign, potentially in presidential history, is best suited and prepared for this kind of a campaign,” Shakir said.
“We have architected ourselves with strength in our digital organizing capacities, and obviously through social media and our live streaming capacities. We are going to flex every muscle we’ve got on this campaign to make sure that we are communicating with voters on a frequent basis and we’re going to be innovating.”
The Vermont Senator covered a wide range of topics in the discussion with his campaign manager, including the coronavirus outbreak, healthcare and his debate with Joe Biden on Sunday night.
“I wanna tell you something Faiz, but my perception is that more and more people, as a result of this crisis, see the dysfunctionality and the stupidity, and the irrationality of the current system,” Sanders said.
“History will judge us. If we are a greedy pharmaceutical industry who thinks you can profit off this moment, history will judge you, and I will do everything I can as the United States Senator to prevent that from happening.”
Sanders provided a preview to Sunday night’s debate with Joe Biden, which is now taking place in Washington, without an audience.
“Tomorrow during the two person debate, I am going to demand that we talk about the important issues, which media often doesn’t. I’m going to demand that we talk about power structures—who really has the power in this country,” the Vermont Senator said.
Sanders also took questions from some of the millions of viewers who were watching the livestream across Periscope, YouTube, Twitch and Facebook.
In response to a question about corporations forcing immunocompromised employees to work during the outbreak, Sanders said it was “crazy” that CEOs would be risking their own safety, and the safety of their employees.
By the end of the livestream, #FiresideChat was the number one trending topic on Twitter in the Untied States.
Sanders said his campaign would continue holding live events online.
The stream was in the tradition of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fireside chats, a series of evening radio addresses delivered between 1933 and 1944.