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Dec 14, 2015 5:40 PM

Steinhauser: Sanders tells NH1 News 'I would go further' on battling climate change

NH1 Political Director -

NASHUA – Sen. Bernie Sanders says if he were president right now, he would “go further” on climate change than the accord that was reached in France on Saturday.

And in a one-on-one interview Monday with NH1 News, Sanders also said New Hampshire is “extremely important” to his chances of winning the Democratic presidential nomination, adding that Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Oregon (as well as his home state of Vermont) are contests he could possibly win as the race for the White House moves past the early voting primary and caucus states.

Sanders spoke with NH1 News minutes after wrapping up a town hall style event at Nashua Community College. The independent senator from Vermont and Democratic presidential candidate told students that “the debate is over. Climate change is real. It is caused by human activity. It is already causing devastating problems in this country and around the world.”

Later, Sanders told NH1 News “I think what happened in Paris is a step forward but we have got to go a lot further and we have to be very aggressive.”

“As president of the United States, yes I would go further,” he added. “We have got to be extremely aggressive in telling the fossil fuel industry that enough is enough. We’re going to have to transform our energy to win, solar, geothermal, to energy efficiency, we’re going to have to build a state of the air rail system, we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Sanders kicked off his latest swing in the Granite State on the third anniversary of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 20 first-graders and six educators dead. Sanders has been criticized by his two rivals for the nomination, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, over some of his past votes against gun measures.

And a release Monday from the O'Malley campaign charged that the Vermont senator "voted with the NRA to give gun manufacturers and dealers immunity and against common sense gun safety reform legislation."

But Sanders defended his record on guns, saying "I come from a state that has virtually no gun control. Throughout my political career I have taken very very brave votes and strong votes. Votes to ban certain types of assault weapons. Votes to strengthen the instant background check. Votes to do away with the gun show loophole."

"I have a very strong record in making sure that our goal be that guns do not get into the hands of people who should not have them," he added.

Explains why anti-Clinton ad was pulled

Sanders has pledged not to run negative ads about his White House rivals. But his campaign briefly ran a web ad that criticized Clinton for being funded by banks and other "big money interests."

As first reported by the Washington Post, the Sanders campaign quickly pulled the spot.

Asked by NH1 News why the ad was produced in the first place if Sanders disdained negative commercials, the senator said "can I be critical of Hillary Clinton, of course I can."

"We have differences of opinion and I will be critical. It’s a gray area that says what is a negative ad as opposed to what is an ad simply stating the truth and comparing points of view. But I felt that that ad went a little bit too far and we took it off. It wasn’t on television. It was on the internet. We got rid of it. I am trying to run as positive a campaign as possible. You’re looking at a guy who has never in a long political life, not once, has run a negative political ad," he added.

Sanders: Media "obsessing" about Trump

Asked if the media spends too much time covering Republican front runner Donald Trump, chucked, put his arm on this reporter’s shoulder and said

“I think what happened in Paris is a step forward but we have got to go a lot further and we have to be very aggressive “funny that you ask that question.”

Sanders went on to cite a study that indicated that ABC’s evening network newscast gave Trump 80 minutes of coverage compared to just 20 seconds to him.

“I don’t think that’s too fair,” he said.

“It’s not only obsessing about Donald Trump, I think it is that TV, we’ve got to start paying attention to the real pain and the reality of American life. And I think that TV does not do that,” Sanders added.

Where Sanders can win after N.H.

Sanders told the students that "if I win, and I think we have a shot to win, we will win because there will be a very significant increase in voter turnout."

Hoping to repeat then Sen. Barack Obama's success in the 2008 primaries in vastly increasing turnout, Sanders added that "on election night in New Hampshire, Iowa, or nationally, if the commentator tells you that the turnout is very large, that people are coming out of the woodwork to vote, you can go to bed early, Bernie Sanders has won."

While Clinton is the clear front runner in national polls and in the latest public opinion surveys in Iowa and South Carolina, Sanders remains on top in the Granite State. Talking to NH1 News, Sanders didn't go as far as his state director in calling the first-in-the-nation primary state a must win.

"I don’t like the word must win," he said before conceding that "clearly New Hampshire is extremely important and we are working really hard."

"I think if we do win, by the way, in New Hampshire and Iowa, we got a real path to victory and I think we’re going to do just fine," he added.

Asked where that path would lead after the early voting states, Sanders ticked off Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, and Vermont as states where "you’re going to find us very strong."

"I think we’re going to surprise people in doing better than others think that we will in some of the southern states," Sanders added.

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