Bernie Sanders Says 2016 Democratic Primary Was ‘Rigged Against Me,’ Won’t Promise To Back Nominee If Not Him

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders appeared to say in an interview Wednesday that he was not prepared to support any Democratic candidate other than himself, if he is not the nominee.

Bernie Sanders frowns.
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Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders appeared to say in an interview Wednesday that he was not prepared to support any Democratic candidate other than himself, if he is not the nominee.

In an MSNBC interview on Wednesday, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders — who also ran in 2016, ultimately losing the nomination to Hillary Clinton — appeared to break with the other candidates in the Democratic field. He refused to promise that he would support the party’s nominee if it was not him, according to a New York Magazine summary of the interview.

“If it’s clear that you are not going to be the Democratic nominee, will you leave the race before the convention?” MSNBC interviewer Kasie Hunt asked Sanders, as quoted by Newsweek.

“I intend to be the Democratic nominee,” Sanders replied.

Sanders went even further when Hunt noted that, in 2016, Sanders remained in the campaign long after it became clear that he would not win the nomination, as Vox reporter Aaron Rupar quoted via Twitter.

Sanders took the opportunity to revisit the 2016 race against Clinton, claiming that “some people say” he would have won that race if the “if the system was not rigged against me.” Sanders cited no evidence that the 2016 primary was “rigged.” But was it?

In the popular vote in 2016, Clinton easily topped Sanders by more than 3.7 million votes, according to data site The Green Papers. Clinton also won 359 more delegates than Sanders.

“The race wasn’t really all that close and that Sanders never really had that much of a chance at winning,” wrote polling expert Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com.

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Silver also noted that Clinton’s popular vote win of nearly 12 percentage points would have been characterized as a “landslide” if it occurred in a general election as opposed to the Democratic primaries.

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Was that “landslide” the product of “rigging” on the part of the Democratic Party leadership? According to the New York Magazine analysis, the answer is no.

“Russian hackers found some emails from staffers at the Democratic National Committee favoring Clinton,” wrote New York columnist Jonathan Chait. “But the committee did not take important steps to materially impair Sanders.”

An analysis by Vox founder and editor Ezra Klein argued that not only was the race not rigged against Sanders, but he also benefited from the Democratic Party system. The “losers,” Klein wrote, candidates were potential candidates who chose not to throw their hat in the ring, including former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, both of whom are running in the 2020 campaign.

“Sanders was a prime beneficiary of this bias, not a victim of it,” Klein wrote.