© Greg Nash
Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersManchin meets with Sanders, Jayapal amid spending stalemate America can end poverty among its elderly citizens Senate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair MORE (I-Vt.) bristled at the notion that he hurt Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Nation mourns Colin Powell The Memo: Powell ended up on losing side of GOP fight Powell death leads to bipartisan outpouring of grief MORE's chances at winning the presidency, suggesting he could have beat Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump goes after Cassidy after saying he wouldn't support him for president in 2024 Jan. 6 panel lays out criminal contempt case against Bannon Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Agencies sound alarm over ransomware targeting agriculture groups MORE in a general election.
When asked by The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne during a Wednesday night event whether he hurt Clinton's chances at the White House, Sanders pushed back.
"You can argue the exact reverse — that maybe I would have been elected president of the United States," Sanders said at George Washington University to cheers from the crowd.
"The presumption behind that question is that we should anoint candidates for president, that a serious debate or candidates competing against each other is a bad thing for democracy."
Sanders went on to argue that his presidential campaign brought "millions of people into the process" and that the vast majority likely voted for Clinton. And he said that his campaign made Clinton a "stronger candidate" because he pushed her to come out against the Keystone Pipeline and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The two former rivals had a tenuous relationship throughout the primary — Sanders and his allies sought to frame Clinton as too cozy with big business, while Clinton and her team cast him as unrealistic and late to the game on civil rights issues.
Sanders did not endorse Clinton for a full month after the primary ended, but he ultimately joined forces with Clinton and campaigned hard for her campaign. When asked about that delay, he said that he wanted to make sure Clinton represented the more than 13 million voters that chose him during the primary.
And he noted that he made 21 speeches in 12 battleground states during the last week of the campaign on her behalf.
"Few people in this country worked harder for Hillary Clinton than I did," he said.