Hillary Clinton backtracked on comments she made about Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in a documentary on her life set to premiere this week at the Sundance Film Festival, insisting that despite trashing the Vermont Senator and 2020 presidential contender, she’ll “support” him if he becomes the Democrats’ eventual nominee.
“I thought everyone wanted my authentic, unvarnished views!” Clinton tweeted Tuesday night, after enduring a torrent of social media abuse from Bernie Sanders supporters.
“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,” she added, though she did not commit to supporting Sanders explicitly.
In the documentary, which will air as a four-part limited series on the streaming network, Hulu, Clinton lashes out at her former rival for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, calling him unlikeable and fake, and lamenting that people were taken in by Sanders’ folksy demeanor and progressive veneer.
“He was in Congress for years. 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,” Hillary says in the film.
Hillary’s sentiments probably aren’t shocking to Democrats, who noted the acrimony between the two candidates during the 2016 election. Sanders is often taken to task for being publicly bitter about losing the nomination to Clinton, despite putting up solid early showings in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. But he and his supporters have reason to be angry: Clinton locked up the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination before either candidate even hit the campaign trail, courting and winning the support of so-called “superdelegates” who could override primary results, and earning the total support of the Democratic National Committee, which seemed to do everything in its power to marginalize Sanders.
The result has been a growing rift within the Democratic Party, between progressives and “Democratic socialists,” and traditional, moderate, and “establishment” Democrats, which is playing out even now in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Clinton was asked if she stood behind her on-screen assessment of Sanders, and she said she did, even refusing to commit to supporting Sanders if he were the party’s choice to take on President Donald Trump.
“I’m not going to go there yet. We’re still in a very vigorous primary season. I will say, however, that it’s not only him, it’s the culture around him. It’s his leadership team,” she replied. “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.”
Trouble started immediately. Bernie Sanders supporters on Twitter pressed an “#ILikeBernie” hashtag, and assailed Clinton in her mentions. Prominent Bernie Sanders supporters took Clinton to task for abandoning the Democratic party over sour grapes. The response was so bitter and sustained, it seems, Clinton did her best to clear her name (even though the damage seems to have been done).
Lucky for Clinton, she probably isn’t in danger of having to endorse Bernie Sanders for president. Although he’s pulled ahead of former president Joe Biden in some states, like New Hampshire, Biden is still comfortably ahead of Sanders nationally.