Two 2016 presidential primary runners-up, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), met for a CNN town hall on Tuesday night. Of course the topic of President Trump came up, especially since hours earlier, The New York Times had dropped the latest bombshell about the president: allegations that he asked the FBI director to drop an investigation into Michael Flynn and, by extension, the Trump campaign. At one point, prompted by moderators Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, Sanders and Kaisch discussed Trump's truthfulness.
"Is Trump a liar, or am I using hyperbole here?" Sanders asked Kasich. "Is he a liar?" "Well, you know, sometimes he says things I don't agree with and I think they don't resemble the facts," Kasich replied, to laughter, but he said using terms like "liar" is not helpful for America. "Let the facts speak for themselves and then we can draw a conclusion," he said. Sanders asked what we should call a president who says millions of people voted illegally for his opponent. "I guess I'm going to belabor this," Kasich said, responding with a question about misleading campaign copywriters. "I mean, we just have to be careful about our terms, that's all I'm saying," he concluded.
Earlier in the town hall, Kasich made clear he wasn't there to defend Trump. "The things that have swirled around this White House are the reasons that caused me not to move forward and support him both in the primary and going to that Republican convention," he said. When Tapper asked Kasich if he's concerned that Trump "doesn't have the competence to be president," Kasich said Trump "doesn't understand all the things about the job," but there's "a learning process for everybody" and he hopes Trump "will become a unifier, will more understand the gravity of this job, stop the tweeting, and bring people together."
Sanders disagreed. "I'm not a psychiatrist," he said, "but there's something strange going on, I think, with Mr. Trump." He said Trump lies all the time, mentioned Trump's affection for Russian President Vladimir Putin, and argued that Trump has "an authoritarian-type mind" and isn't "a great believer in dissent or democracy." So no, "I don't think this is just a learning curve, I think he's a smart guy, but something else is going on," Sanders said. Watch. Peter Weber