Many folks in the Democratic Party are working hard to repair the damage from Hillary Clinton’s embarrassing defeat to Donald Trump in last year’s election by courting Bernie Sanders supporters – young, enthusiastic voters critical for a win 2020.
Hillary Clinton is not one of them.
With the release of her new book “What Happened,” Clinton is now touring the country to offer excuses for her failures, and it’s clear she places much of the blame on the senator from Vermont and his growing base of supporters in the Democratic Party.
“What political sin did he commit, other than choosing to run against you?” CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked Clinton in an interview Wednesday night.
“Well, it’s not the political sin he committed, it was the failure to move quickly to unify the party and his supporters,” Clinton said. “And I know a little bit about this.
“It was clear I was going to be nominated by March or April. It was beyond any doubt in June. And in 08, we ran a much closer, tougher primary contest between President Obama and myself,” she said. “It was really close, and I immediately endorsed him and I went to work for him. I spent countless hours convincing my supporters, who felt equally aggrieved, that they had to support Barack Obama.”
“I didn’t get that same respect and reciprocity from Senator Sanders or from his supporters,” Clinton told Cooper. “They are still incredibly divisive.”
Clinton’s comments echo grievances against Sanders and his supporters outlined in “What Happened,” according to Vox.
“She attempts to cast some blame on Sanders for her defeat last fall, saying that during the primaries he resorted to ‘innuendo and impugning my character’ in a way that caused ‘lasting damage,’ and that he stayed in the race too long,” the news site reports.
“Then she reiterates some of her own critiques of Sanders from the primary, calling him insufficiently committed to gun control and reproductive rights, and claiming his policy proposals aren’t ‘realistic.’
“Finally, she says his theory for how to win over working-class white voters doesn’t make sense, and argues that he’s far too negative toward the Democratic Party: ‘I am proud to be a Democrat and I wish Bernie were, too.’”
Of course, Clinton has blamed her loss on many others, as well, including former FBI Director James Comey, the Russians, Donald Trump and even her own supporters.
But it’s the attacks on Sanders that will reopen divisions within her own party and undoubtedly alienate many of the young voters Democrats hope to rely on in future elections.
“Democratic leaders have eagerly sought to keep (Sanders) and his supporters in the party’s big tent. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer added Sanders to his Senate leadership team. Tom Perez defeated Sanders supporter Keith Ellison in a race for DNC chair, but named him deputy chair. More broadly, because of the party’s currently dismal electoral state, many of its members have been open to arguments from Sanders about what they might be doing wrong. Some have even argued that Sanders is currently the Democrats’ frontrunner in the 2020 presidential race,” Vox reports.
“Now, with this book, Clinton is weighing in, in part to defend herself and in part to express her own opinions. But it’s notable that she’s chosen to do so with a lengthy, unsparing, multi-pronged critique of Sanders. She clearly wants to let all her readers and supporters know that, no, she still doesn’t hold a particularly high opinion of him and his approach to politics. She’s not ready to cede the debate over Democrats’ future to him just yet.”