Hillary Clinton: Bernie Sanders Not Really A Democrat

In an interview this morning, Hillary Clinton suggested that Bernie Sanders might not be a Democrat, but is there any truth to that allegation? Some commentators say yes, maybe, a little.

“He’s a relatively new Democrat, and in fact I’m not even sure he is one. He’s running as one. So I don’t know quite how to characterize him,” Hillary Clinton said during an interview with Politico this morning.

Bernie Sanders, according to Hillary Clinton, “might not be a Democrat” in part because much of his support comes from swing voters who might otherwise identify as “independent,” reports the Washington Post. It’s the first time that Clinton has directly stated that she doubts Sanders’ Democratic bona fides, but it’s a criticism that has been an undercurrent in many of Hillary Clinton’s misgivings about Bernie Sanders. According to some sources, Bernie Sanders has been criticized for not participating in Democratic Party fundraising as vigorously as Democratic Party members claim he should be.

“There is a persistent, organized effort to misrepresent my record, and I don’t appreciate that, and I feel sorry for a lot of the young people who are fed up with this list of misrepresentations,” said Hillary Clinton during a campaign event this week.

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Bernie Sanders does enjoy a strong following among independent voters, as the data from past primary races this election season bears out. According to the Washington Post, Bernie Sanders pulled more than 45 percent of his support from self-described independent voters in Alabama, Arkansas, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Almost half of Bernie Sanders’ support in those states came from independent voters, which the Sanders campaign is quick to point out will be a big benefit during a general election, as Sanders’ support among independents could win some important swing states for the Sanders campaign if he wins the Democratic nomination.

However, Hillary Clinton supporters see that independent support differently, not as a strength in a general election contest, but as a weakness and more importantly, as a liability going into a tense and hard fought general election season, reports the Washington Post.

“I don’t understand how you wouldn’t want to elect down-ballot Democrats, starting in this election, which is why I’ve been raising money for the Democratic Party, because I believe the more we build up our organization the more prepared we are, it will not only help me in November, but it will lift up and elect other Democrats as well,” said Hillary Clinton this morning, criticizing Bernie Sanders’ fundraising.

Hillary Clinton was on the warpath this morning, hitting talk shows on MSNBC, CNN and Politico to slam Bernie Sanders at every turn, but her claims during the Politico interview have raised some eyebrows among media observers. Though Bernie Sanders has suggested in the past that he only ran as a Democrat in order to get media coverage, his political positions place him firmly in the Democratic Party – despite Clinton’s misgivings. Sanders may be more moderate than Clinton on some issues, like gun control, but Bernie Sanders’ stances on Wall Street regulation and healthcare are unequivocally liberal and thus Democratic, reports the Huffington Post.

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Bernie Sanders, the Huffington Post reports, is the longest serving independent in congressional history, but he’s also served on and chaired Democratic committees and he caucuses with the Democratic Party to which he belongs. Still, Clinton supporters are not convinced, Senator Barbara Boxer of California tweeted in February that Bernie Sanders is only a Democrat on “some days.”

The Washington Post suggests that Hillary Clinton continues to question Bernie Sanders’ loyalty to the Democratic party as a political move to persuade Democratic “superdelegates” to stay the course and keep supporting the Clinton campaign, despite what some are calling Bernie Sanders’ growing “momentum” among independent and Democratic voters.

[Photo by Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images]