The former secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee declined to commit to endorsing the Vermont senator if he captures the party’s nomination in 2020.
Hillary Clinton lambasted Bernie Sanders in a forthcoming documentary as a “career politician” who “nobody likes,” savaging her rival for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination less than two weeks before the 2020 Iowa caucuses.
“He was in Congress for years. He had one senator support him. Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him. He got nothing done,” Clinton said in the four-part series “Hillary,” which is set to debut in March and chronicle her life and most recent White House bid.
“He was a career politician. It’s all just baloney, and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it,” Clinton added of Sanders, in remarks first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.
Addressing those criticisms in a Hollywood Reporter interview about the documentary — conducted earlier this month and published Tuesday — Clinton said her assessment of Sanders still holds true and demurred on whether she would throw her support behind the independent Vermont senator should he emerge as Democrats’ choice to challenge President Donald Trump in November.
“I’m not going to go there yet. We’re still in a very vigorous primary season,” Clinton said. “I will say, however, that it’s not only him, it’s the culture around him. It’s his leadership team. It’s his prominent supporters. It’s his online Bernie Bros and their relentless attacks on lots of his competitors, particularly the women.”
Clinton argued that “it should be worrisome” that Sanders has “not only permitted” such a corrosive campaign culture but also “seems to really be very much supporting it.”
“I don’t think we want to go down that road again where you campaign by insult and attack and maybe you try to get some distance from it, but you either don’t know what your campaign and supporters are doing or you’re just giving them a wink and you want them to go after Kamala [Harris] or after Elizabeth [Warren],” Clinton said. “I think that that’s a pattern that people should take into account when they make their decisions.”
In a statement responding to Clinton’s interview, Sanders said: “My focus today is on a monumental moment in American history: the impeachment trial of Donald Trump. Together, we are going to go forward and defeat the most dangerous president in American history.”
The stinging repudiation from the most recent Democratic nominee for president comes as Sanders has reestablished himself as a leading contender in the current primary contest — polling near the top of the pack in early nominating states and posing perhaps the most credible long-term threat to frontrunner Joe Biden.
But Sanders’ momentum leading up to the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses has produced high-profile clashes with his chief opponents for the nomination. He apologized Monday for an op-ed penned by a surrogate alleging Biden had “a big corruption problem,” and he is still weathering the political fallout from his recent feud with Warren.
Warren has maintained that Sanders told her during a private meeting in December 2018, prior to the respective announcements of their presidential candidacies, that he did not believe a woman could defeat Trump in 2020. Although he has denied ever making such a statement, Clinton charged that the debate represents “part of a pattern” for Sanders.
“If it were a one-off, you might say, ‘OK, fine.’ But he said I was unqualified. I had a lot more experience than he did and got a lot more done than he had, but that was his attack on me,” Clinton, who served in the Senate with Sanders from 2007-2009, told The Hollywood Reporter.
“I just think people need to pay attention,” she continued, “because we want, hopefully, to elect a president who’s going to try to bring us together, and not either turn a blind eye, or actually reward the kind of insulting, attacking, demeaning, degrading behavior that we’ve seen from this current administration.”
Clinton weighed in at length on the challenges still facing female White House contenders, including Warren and Amy Klobuchar, and praised Warren’s forceful defense of a woman’s electability at last week’s Democratic primary debate.
“I’ve tried to tell all the candidates the same thing, but with the women, I say, ‘You’re probably not going to be treated fairly. Don’t let it knock you off stride,’” Clinton said.
As the 2020 campaign has worn on, journalists tracking the race have also reverted “back to stereotypes,” she asserted, “and many of those are highly genderized.”
“It’s really hard ever to score 100 when you’re trying to navigate gender expectations and barriers. Sometimes you really do want to let loose, and then you think, ‘Oh, great, they’ll say I can’t take it, so I’m getting angry.’ Or they’ll say that I’m mad, and that that’s not a very attractive look,” Clinton said. “So, it’s a constant evaluation about, ‘How can I best convey who I am, what I believe, what I stand for and what I’m willing to fight for’?”