January 19, 2017 0429 GMT
During a town hall style interview with CNN on Monday night, Sanders, who has spared no effort to discredit Trump since his November 8 victory, was challenged to compliment him by naming his “strongest attribute.”
“You think I should say something good about him now?” Sanders said with a smile. “That’s not a hard question for me to answer.”
“Trump took on the Republican establishment, he took on the Democratic establishment, took on the media establishment and he ended up winning the election to become president of the United States. And that is an extraordinary accomplishment. And it talks about perseverance, it talks about very strong political instincts, it talks about a way to connect with people,” the Vermont senator added. “So I give Donald Trump his due.”
The comments marked an about-face for Sanders, who had questioned Trump’s win by electoral votes despite losing the popular vote to Clinton.
He has also firmly opposed a Republican bid to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA),or Obamacare, and replace it with ideas of their own.
Trump has indicated before and after the election that he would take action to replace President Barack Obama’s “disastrous” healthcare program on the first day.
The new Congress, which was sworn in last Tuesday, has taken the first official step to repeal the ACA in the form of a budget resolution, leaving Democrats almost no chance to block the attempt.
Sanders admitted Monday that Obamacare had problems but said he would do his best to stop Republicans until they come up with a viable alternative.
“It has problems but we damn well are not going to see it repealed and have no replacement there at all,” he charged.
The 75-year-old independent senator, who ran a strong but unsuccessful campaign against Clinton for Democratic nomination, also discussed his plans to run for president in 2020.
“It is much too early to talk about that,” said Sanders, who will be 79 years old by then. “What we have got to worry about is how we deal with the issues that impact us today.”