Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) walked back comments characterizing the Human Rights Campaign, Planned Parenthood and other progressive groups as a part of the political “establishment” in a Thursday night interview with MSNBC.
Sanders told MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt that organizations like Planned Parenthood and HRC, which endorsed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for President, are not part of the political establishment.
“No. They aren’t. They’re standing up and fighting the important fights that have to be fought,” he told MSNBC.
Sanders also said his original comments were misconstrued by the Clinton campaign as the presidential nominating contests approached. Much of Sanders’ appeal has been based on his outsider status and large grassroots support, and in a Tuesday interview Sanders had said the organizations that endorsed Clinton were “a part of the establishment” that his campaign was taking on in this election.
“We’re taking on not only Wall Street and economic establishment, we’re taking on the political establishment,” Sanders told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. “So, I have friends and supporters in the Human Rights Fund and Planned Parenthood. But, you know what? Hillary Clinton has been around there for a very, very long time. Some of these groups are, in fact, part of the establishment.”
In response to Sanders’ comments, Clinton told CNN on Thursday that Sanders was even more “establishment” than her.
“I just don’t understand what that means. He’s been in Congress, he’s been elected to office a lot longer than I have,” she said.
“He’s been in the Congress for 25,” Clinton added, compared to her eight years as a Senator. She didn’t mention her time as first lady or secretary of state.
She also said she didn’t understand Sanders’ comments against progressive organizations like Planned Parenthood.
“I don’t really understand what he means by that. These are two of the really great human rights, progressive organizations in our country,” she added.