Sen. Bernie Sanders discusses the issues driving his campaign

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign will return this weekend to his home state for the first time since he entered the race. But first, he sat down with our Kyle Midura for a one-on-one interview.

Sen. Bernie Sanders sits down for a one-on-one interview with Gray DC Reporter Kyle Midura (Source: Gray DC)

Sanders, I-Vermont, said there's a big difference between this race and 2016, over just a few years his ideas went from fringe to mainstream.

"The issues we are talking about are issues that speak to the needs of working families and the middle-class and low-income people," Sanders said.

His campaign pitches include criminal justice and immigration reform, tightening gun laws, and fighting for racial and gender equality. But the primary theme continues to be economic justice. Sanders promises crackdowns on big banks, big agriculture and wealthy tax-evaders, as well as jobs, fewer financial traps and better services for those struggling for their financial survival.

"If you look at what's going on in the economy in general, it is doing phenomenally well for the richest people in this country while tens of millions of people continue to struggle economically," Sanders said.

He calls for progressive tax hikes to invest in infrastructure, tackling climate change, education and expanding Medicare coverage to every American - not just those 65 and older.

"This is not a radical idea," Sanders said, "all I want to see us do is what Canada and every other major country on Earth is doing: guaranteeing health care to all people and end the absurdity of us spending twice as much per person on healthcare as the people of any other country."

In fact, Sanders' proposed plan is considered more generous than any other government-run plan in the world, in large part because it would cover vision and dental benefits.

The Vermont independent says half-measures won't get the job done. But, it's unclear if his big ideas are politically-realistic.

"If Democrats don't have complete control of Congress, can you get your ideas through?" we asked. "I think we can, and I'll tell you why," Sanders said, "if people engage and stand up and fight back... we will win."

It's the same grassroots theory he's counting on along the campaign trail and at the ballot box.

If Sanders does become the next president, he would be the oldest person ever elected to the office - and there are questions as to whether he can be the face of the modern Democratic Party.

"Some of your critics have suggested you're too old, too white, too male..." we began to ask Sanders.

He put his hand to his ear, "What'd you say?" he asked in a loud voice followed by a laugh. "No, look, I feel great," he said. "If people consider age a factor that's fine," Sanders added, "I would hope people look at the totality of one's life and experience, and I think if they do that, I think we'll do pretty well."

Sanders will hold a rally in Vermont Saturday on the Statehouse lawn. From there, he'll make stops in New Hampshire and Nevada- key early primary states.

The full interview with Sanders can be seen in the video tab above.

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