King made the remark after Sanders–a Vermont senator and two-time candidate for president–appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel Live! show following the debate. Sanders told the host that Trump was “a bully, a liar [and] someone who doesn’t even respect the rules of the debate.”
During the first of three presidential debates, Trump was asked by Fox News moderator Chris Wallace to condemn white supremacists and militia groups. But the president stopped short of doing that, and replied that the far-right Proud Boys group, which has endorsed violence, should “stand back and stand by.”
Asked about that exchange, Sanders said: “It doesn’t give me any pleasure to say this, you have a president who is in fact a racist. And he has been using race for a very, very long time in trying to divide the American people up. And he is not only a racist, he is a xenophobe…he is a religious bigot, and this is who we have as president of the United States right now.”
In a tweet, posted during Sanders’ television appearance, King–a vocal supporter of Sanders and the Black Lives Matter movement–wrote: “Bernie is crushing it on Jimmy Kimmel right now.”
A follow up tweet read: “Bernie would’ve crushed Trump.”
For a Democrat whose own 2020 presidential bid was called off six months earlier, Sanders’ name still peppered the 90-minute debate, which touched on the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and racial inequality protests.
At one point Trump suggested the left-wing senator and Biden had a shared “manifesto” that would lead the U.S. to adopting “socialized medicine.”
Biden responded: “I beat Bernie Sanders…by a whole hell of a lot,” adding: “I am the Democratic Party right now.”
To which Trump replied: “He just lost the left.”
Later in the debate, Trump suggested that the former vice president had stolen the nomination from Sanders.
“The fact is that everything he’s saying so far is simply a lie,” Biden responded. “I’m not here to call out his lies. Everybody knows he’s a liar.”
Sanders’ son, Levi Sanders, tweeted after the debate: “As someone who knows @BernieSanders better than anyone, and has had deep and profound conversations and debates about everything, I can honestly say he would have excoriated @realDonaldTrump in this debate.”
Newsweek has contacted the Trump campaign for comment.