Hillary Clinton, who battled with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont for months in a 2016 Democratic primary that sometimes turned contentious, ripped into her former campaign rival in a new documentary series and declined to say if she would endorse and campaign for him if he were to win the presidential nomination this time around.
"He was in Congress for years. He had one senator support him," she said in a forthcoming four-part series, set to have its premiere at Sundance Film Festival and air on Hulu beginning March 6. "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 in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, published on Tuesday, if that assessment still held, she said, "Yes, it does."
And in response to a question about whether she would endorse and campaign for Sanders if he were to get the nomination, she said: "I'm not going to go there yet. We're still in a very vigorous primary season."
Clinton tried to clarify her remarks Tuesday evening. "I thought everyone wanted my authentic, unvarnished views!" she wrote on Twitter. "But to be serious, the number one priority for our country and world is retiring Trump, and, as I always have, I will do whatever I can to support our nominee."
Those who have spoken to Clinton recently confirm that she has every intention of supporting the Democratic nominee -- even if Sanders ends up winning the primary. Still, even some longtime allies were shocked that she voiced such criticisms of Sanders in an election year, so close to the start of primary voting.
The remarks, which Clinton made this month, suggest that echoes of the combative campaign between her and Sanders still reverberate, with less than two weeks to go before the 2020 Iowa caucuses, as many Democrats voice renewed concerns about party unity.
Sanders has gained high-profile endorsements, shown increased strength in the polls and finds himself locked in a tight four-way race to win Iowa.
But this month, a virtual nonaggression pact between Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, the other leading progressive in the Democratic race, broke down, in part over a disagreement about whether Sanders told Warren that he did not believe a woman could be elected president. In recent days, both candidates have sought to deescalate the tension.
Asked to weigh in on the Warren-Sanders dispute in The Hollywood Reporter interview, Clinton called it "part of a pattern," noting that Sanders had criticized her as being "unqualified" during the 2016 primary. In making that claim, Sanders at the time cited Clinton's vote for the war in Iraq, her fundraising methods and her support for trade agreements.
And Clinton, a former senator and secretary of state, spoke of a "culture" around Sanders' campaign she found troubling.
"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," she said. "And I really hope people are paying attention to that because it should be worrisome that he has permitted this culture."
"Not only permitted," she added, but he "seems to really be very much supporting it."
In a statement responding to Clinton's remarks, 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."
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday in Washington, Sanders added, "Secretary Clinton is entitled to her point of view." When asked for his response to Clinton's assertion that no one liked him, he joked that "on a good day, my wife likes me so let's clear the air on that one."
Clinton also said that she had spoken with Warren, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and "practically everybody" who is seeking the Democratic nomination. But according to a transcript of the Hollywood Reporter interview, she nodded when the questioner suggested that Sanders was "not part of that."
"I can't say all of them," she said of the candidates she had spoken with.
A Section on 01/22/2020
Print Headline: Hillary Clinton slams Sanders, says she'll back party's nominee