In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter to promote the upcoming Hulu documentary, Hillary, Clinton laid into her 2016 Democratic primary rival who she has previously accused of contributing to her eventual election defeat to Donald Trump. Clinton said Sanders and his team have relentlessly attacked Democratic women, and she threw her support behind Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has faced abuse for claiming Sanders told her during a private meeting that a woman couldn’t win the election.
Clinton’s stinging attack came the day after Sanders was forced to apologize to former Vice President Joe Biden because his campaign had promoted an overzealous op-ed by one of his surrogates accusing Biden of having a “big corruption problem.”
The Hollywood Reporter was interviewing Clinton about the upcoming Hulu documentary and read her a quote from one of the scenes: “[Sanders] was in Congress for years. He had one senator support him. Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done. He was a career politician. It’s all just baloney and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it.”
Asked if that assessment still stood, Clinton said yes and then went further. She refused to say whether she would endorse him if her party chose him as its 2020 candidate, but made it clear that she hoped that wouldn’t happen.
Clinton and Sanders fell out in a big way during the 2016 campaign but she was not expected to intervene so powerfully in the current race. In her 2017 book, What Happened, Clinton argued that Sanders’ attacks against her during the primary contributed to Trump’s shock victory. She wrote that Sanders resorted to “innuendo and impugning my character” because he was unable to criticize her effectively on policy, which she believes caused her “lasting damage” when it came to November 2016.
Clinton has now told the Hollywood Reporter that the entire Sanders 2020 operation is a problem.
“It’s not only him, it’s the culture around him,” she said. “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. And I really hope people are paying attention to that because it should be worrisome that he has permitted this culture—not only permitted, [he] seems to really be very much supporting it.”
Clinton went on to accuse Sanders of giving his supporters tacit approval to go after female nominees such as Warren and Sen. Kamala Harris by giving them “a wink.” She appeared to discourage people from voting for Sanders on that basis, saying: “I think that that’s a pattern that people should take into account when they make their decisions.”
Clinton became particularly heated when asked about Warren’s claim that Sanders told her a woman couldn’t win the presidency.
Sanders denied that he had said it during last week’s televised debate and Warren initially tried to diffuse the situation, saying, “Bernie is my friend, and I’m not here to try to fight with Bernie.”
Warren’s irritation boiled over at the end of the debate, however, and she confronted Sanders on stage, thinking the cameras were no longer rolling. CNN eventually released a recording that showed her facing him down over the denial. “I think you called me a liar on national TV,” she said.
Clinton obviously shared Warren’s frustration. She said it was nonsense to say a woman couldn’t win since she won the primaries in 2016 and got around three million more votes than Trump later that year. Then she turned on Sanders once again, claiming his campaign had “gone after Elizabeth [Warren] with a very personal attack on her” after her disclosure.
“If it were a one-off, you might say, ‘OK, fine,’” said Clinton. “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. I just think people need to pay attention 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.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Clinton said she had talked to Warren, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and “practically everybody” who either has run for the Democratic nomination or is still running. When asked if Sanders was excluded from that, she confirmed, by a nod of the head, that he wasn’t.
Asked what advice she’s given, Clinton said she told the female candidates: “You can run the best campaign, but you’re going to have to be even better than your best campaign to overcome some of the unfairness that will be directed at you as a woman.”
Sanders has declined to comment.