Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., defended his label of being a Democratic socialist on Wednesday night at the Democratic debate in Nevada.
Sanders has been enjoying a surge in the polls in recent weeks, including an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Tuesday that shows the Vermont senator with a double-digit lead — 27 percent of support, which is well ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who earned just 15 and 14 percent, respectively.
However, in that same poll, a combined 67 percent of voters say they “have reservations or are very uncomfortable” with a socialist candidate.
During the debate, NBC News moderator Lester Holt asked Sanders about the poll result.
“Our latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released yesterday — two-thirds of all voters said they were uncomfortable with a socialist candidate for president. What do you say to those voters, sir?” Holt asked.
“What was the result of that poll?” Sanders countered. “Who was winning?”
Some in the audience applauded Sanders for challenging the question.
“The question is to you,” Holt continued.
“Well, the question was, ‘Was I winning’ — and I think by a fairly comfortable margin — might mention that,” Sanders added.