Bernie Sanders on Lockheed Martin F-35 Jets in Vermont

Kevin Rutledge on November 12, 2014
Senator Bernie Sanders was asked a question about the most expensive weapons system in history and controversial F-35 Fighter Jet, manufactured by Lockheed Martin in his home state of Vermont.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the most expensive weapons program in history at $400 billion, which is being manufactured in the state of Vermont by the biggest military defense contractor in the country, Lockheed Martin.  During the last presidenti cycle in 2012, Lockheed Martin donated almost $4 million to political campaigns, spent over $15 million lobbying Congress, and won over $44 billion in government contracts, according to and

During a town hall meeting in New Hampshire, Josh asked Senator Bernie Sanders about this.  Here is the video transcribed:

Josh: "...You work on limiting the influence of money in politics, yet at the same time you continue to support wasteful contracts from companies such as Lockheed Martin with the F-35 for instance.  So what steps are you willing to take to limit the influence of companies in politics, not only on campaigns, but in policy making as well?” 

Senator Sanders: "What part of the F-35?  What are my options as a Senator? …if I said no to the F-35 coming to Burlington, for Vermont National Guard where would it go?... South Carolina?

My choice as a Senator, this is not a debate 20 years ago when we saw the F-35, which was very, very costly and is a huge cost overall.  It’s the debate that the F-35 is here, it goes to South Carolina, or Florida, or in the state of Vermont.  And I wanted it to come to the state of Vermont.  Now in terms of the military spending in general, that’s another broader issue.  Are we spending too much?  Yes, we are.  Have there been, more…well back up for a minute…we are spending too much, we should cut it. 

The F-35, you have to in politics, it’s not and people do this I don’t mean to be critical, but you gotta look at where somebody is at the moment.  If the debate is if somebody comes to you and says “Look, I’m thinking about building this super plane deal, it’s gonna cost huge sums of money, what do you think?”  That’s, and maybe say no, no I think that’s a good idea, maybe we’ll go with the F-16.  So then I responded.  Are you about to say something?”

Josh: "No."

Sen. Sanders continues: “That’s where, in the real world, if the plan is built, and it is the plan that the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force and of NATO, and if the choice is if that goes to Vermont, North Carolina-not North Carolina, South Carolina, or Florida, what is your choice as a United States Senator?  Do you want it to go to South Carolina?  You’re not saving anybody any money.  So you have to look at these things in a, and it becomes complicated, and good friends can disagree on that.  But my view is that given the reality of the damn plane, I’d rather it come to Vermont than to South Carolina.  And that’s what the Vermont National Guard wants, and that means hundreds of jobs in my city.  That’s it.”

Concord, NH
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Kevin Rutledge

Kevin Rutledge AFSC Governing Under the Influence Presidential Campaign Project

Kevin Rutledge is the Grassroots Education Coordinator with AFSC’s Presidential Campaign Project in Iowa.  Kevin has deep family roots in Quaker activism for peace and social justice.  A graduate from Iowa State University in Sociology and Criminal Justice, his previous work includes: United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) organizer, Public Citizen online organizer to overturn Citizens United, U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, and a youth residential treatment facility.  Kevin hopes to one day return to Brazil and live by the beach.

“What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” – Napoleon Hill .