In a new interview this month, former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton took aim at current presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) — and effectively made the case that 2016 is the year that won’t die.
Clinton has blamed Sanders in the past for delaying his endorsement of her after it became clear that his own 2016 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination was doomed. But in a Hollywood Reporter interview released Tuesday, she wouldn’t say whether she would endorse Sanders at all, should he win the nomination this time around.
“I’m not going to go there yet,” Clinton said, asked about an endorsement.
The revelation came in an interview about “Hillary,” a forthcoming documentary series that uses footage from Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Clinton repeated to the magazine what she’s said elsewhere: “I’ll do anything I can to defeat the current incumbent.”
But to election observers, her comments about Sanders meant the 2016 tension that engulfed the Democratic electorate would stick around for 2020.
“It is year five of the 2016 election,” BuzzFeed News politics editor Matt Berman commented.
In a statement shared with TPM by his campaign, Sanders said his focus was “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,” he added.
In the documentary, which The Hollywood Reporter quoted in the interview, Clinton made her feelings about the Vermont senator crystal clear.
“He was in Congress for years,” she said. “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 the assessment still holds, Clinton told the magazine, “Yes, it does.”
She added of Sanders: “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. 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.”
“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],” she continued. “I think that that’s a pattern that people should take into account when they make their decisions.”
Clinton also touched on the recent spat between Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who’s said that Sanders told her in a private 2018 meeting that a woman could not win the presidency. Sanders has flatly denied saying as much.
“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,” Clinton said.
In response to the interview, some Sanders supporters pointed to the senator’s extensive campaigning for Clinton after he lined up behind her candidacy, or to Clinton supporters’ shots at Barack Obama in 2008 after he won the party’s nomination.
The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel recalled the Clinton supporters’ group “People United Means Action” (or, “Party Unity My Ass”) that formed after Obama clinched the Democratic candidacy.
“But Obama won, so people kind of forgot about the PUMAs, while Clinton lost, so the fight will rage forever,” he said.
This post has been updated.