Clinton fury with Sanders grows
Fury against Bernie Sanders is growing in Clinton World.
In public, Hillary Clinton’s aides and allies have kept their anger checked, decrying the rowdy outbursts at Nevada’s state convention last weekend but saying they believe Sanders will ultimately do the right thing by helping to unite the Democratic Party.
Behind the scenes, however, they are seething that statements by the Vermont senator are just making matters worse by further alienating his supporters from Clinton, the front-runner for the party’s presidential nomination.
The continued combat on the left is also complicating Clinton’s efforts to fully turn her attention to presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, who is reveling in the Democratic feuding.
“This is the worst-case scenario and the one people feared the most,” said one Clinton ally and former Clinton aide.
“Unfortunately, he’s choosing the path of burning down the house,” the ally said. “He continues with character attacks against Hillary. He continues with calling the Democratic Party corrupt, and he not only risks damaging Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party but he’s currently doing it.”
Clinton allies say Sanders is only piling on by insisting that Clinton join him for a debate ahead of California’s primary on June 7. The debate would be aired on Fox News, a network Clinton supporters see as fanning the flames between Sanders supporters and the former secretary of State.
A second ally said Sanders should stop criticizing the party and the front-runner’s supporters even if he continues to fight for delegates through the six state contests on June 7.
“It’s inappropriate at this point, and I hate to tell him, it’s not helping him in the long run. It’s only hurting her,” the ally said. “The Republican Party has their nominee, and he’s free and clear of his Republican opponents and is taking shots at Hillary. We need to move closer to that process, and he’s not helping.”
In an interview on CNN Thursday, Clinton projected extreme confidence that she will be her party’s nominee. The remarks could be read as a signal to Sanders that he should get real with his supporters about his chances of winning the nomination.
“I will be the nominee for my party, Chris,” the former first lady told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “That is already done in effect. There is no way I won’t be.”
She added that Sanders “has to do his part to unify the party.”
“He said the other day that he’ll do everything possible to defeat Donald Trump. He said he’d work seven days a week. I take him at his word,” Clinton said. “I think the threat that Donald Trump poses is so dramatic to our country, to our democracy and our economy that I certainly expect Sen. Sanders to do what he said he would.”
Clinton currently leads Sanders by 274 pledged delegates, according to The Associated Press’s totals. Including superdelegates, the party officials who have their own votes in the contest, Clinton is 760 delegates ahead of Sanders and just 90 total delegates away from the 2,383 needed to clinch the party’s presidential nomination.
Sanders has argued that he can convince superdelegates to switch their loyalty and that he could cut into Clinton’s lead with pledged delegates by winning California. But Clinton only needs to win 10 percent of the remaining delegates to secure the nomination.
Clinton’s comments to CNN triggered a fiery response from the Sanders campaign.
Some Democratic officials have criticized Sanders for feeding those sentiments, which have frustrated Clinton supporters given their candidate’s lead in virtually every metric in the race.
“To his supporters who are grousing about the fact that everything is rigged — it’s not rigged,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who was booed off the stage by Sanders supporters at the Nevada convention, said on CNN on Wednesday.
“You know, we’ve had elections. Hillary has more votes,” Boxer continued. “And Hillary has more delegates, not even counting superdelegates. So I think we need to look at … what is at stake here. And let me tell you what’s at stake here: everything. Everything that we believe in.”
Several polls this week have forecast a competitive general election fight between Clinton and Trump, unnerving some Democrats.
“He needs to stop doing this or Donald Trump will win,” one of Clinton allies said. “While his intentions started off in the best of ways, he’s shown he has no loyalty to the Democratic Party. One hopes he understands that his actions could result in giving Donald Trump the nuclear launch codes.”
The polls, however, could give more ammunition to Sanders, who says he would be a stronger candidate in the fall against Trump.
“With almost every national and state poll showing Sen. Sanders doing much, much better than Secretary Clinton against Donald Trump, it is clear that millions of Americans have growing doubts about the Clinton campaign,” Briggs said in Thursday’s statement.
Democrats continue to point out that the party survived a bitter 2008 primary between Clinton and then-Sen. Barack Obama.
Seth Bringman, who served as a spokesman for the Ready for Hillary super-PAC, said he believes the party will inevitably come together.
“The events in Nevada and some of the posts on social media get a lot of attention, but it doesn’t represent the sentiment of the 10 million Americans who have voted for Sen. Sanders,” Bringman said.
“What I hear from Sanders voters in Ohio is, ‘I agreed with him more on this issue or that issue, but I’m voting for Hillary in November.’
“Sen. Sanders will decide what he does and when, but the vast majority of both candidates’ supporters don’t wrap themselves up in every latest statement or headline — and that’s reassuring for everyone who wants to stop Donald Trump.”