Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders will appear at an hour-long televised town hall event in Detroit on Monday, the eve of the Michigan primary — on Fox News. According to the New York Times, the network had invited both Democratic presidential candidates to participate in the event, which Bret Baier will host, but only Sanders accepted. Hillary Clinton’s campaign said she could not attend due to a scheduling conflict.
Fox News hasn’t hosted a Democratic debate since 2004. The Times reports that last month, when Baier approached Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz about letting the network put on another one this year, she laughed at the suggestion.
This would not be Sanders’ first appearance on Fox this year; Chris Wallace interviewed him on Fox News Sunday in February, presumably after checking WebMD to make sure socialism isn’t contagious.
In fact, Sanders has made a point of appearing before audiences Democrats usually shun, which fits with his stated goal of expanding the party’s base, particularly to recapture the white working class. Most notably, he spoke in September at Liberty University, the evangelical Christian college founded by the late Jerry Falwell, to make his case against inequality in religious terms.
Sanders’ message of economic justice, his skepticism toward free trade, and his hostility toward Wall Street resonate with a certain segment of the electorate that doesn’t necessarily identify as liberal. He won over 2,000 votes in the New Hampshire Republican primary, and though his fans on the left may hate to admit it, many independent voters are choosing this year between the Vermont Senator and the GOP’s own “anti-establishment” candidate, Donald Trump.
Nevertheless, his base-broadening strategy is one reason why Sanders supporters argue that he is actually more electable than Clinton, despite not representing the Democratic mainstream.