June 12 (UPI) -- Sen. Bernie Sanders praised the social programs enacted by former President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Wednesday during a campaign speech defending the 2020 presidential contender's alignment with democratic socialism.
The independent senator from Vermont, who is seeking a Democratic presidential nomination, presented his principles as a set of "economic rights" that are present in modern society through programs like social security and Medicare.
"We rejected the ideology of Mussolini and Hitler. We instead embraced the bold and visionary leadership of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt," Sanders said during remarks at Georgetown University. "Together with organized labor, leaders in the African-American community and progressives inside and outside the party, Roosevelt led a transformation of the American economy."
Sanders positioned himself as a candidate that will work to expand and modernize Roosevelt's vision.
"Today in the 21st century, we must take up the unfinished business of the New Deal and carry it to completion," Sanders said.
He also drew from Roosevelt's 1936 campaign speech as he referenced struggles against class antagonism, sectionalism and war profiteering.
"Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me -- and I welcome their hatred."
Sanders cited President Donald Trump as an opponent who he said believes in "corporate socialism for the rich and powerful" in contrast with his own beliefs which he said benefit a wider group.
"I believe in a democratic socialsm that works for the working families of this country," he said.
Sanders noted that throughout his political career, he has faced similar kinds of criticisms as those lobbed against him by Trump. He vowed to push past them on his pursuit of the White House.
"Let me be clear, I do understand that I and other progressives will face massive attacks from those who attempt to use the word 'socialism' as a slur, but I should also tell you that I have faced and overcome these attacks for decades and I am not the only one," he said.