Sanders blasts CEOs and billionaires with 'anti-endorsement' list

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGabbard arrives in Puerto Rico to 'show support' amid street protests Democratic strategist predicts most 2020 candidates will drop out in late fall Sanders unveils plan to guarantee the 'right to a secure retirement' MORE (I-Vt.) unveiled a list of “anti-endorsements” on Wednesday, touting criticism he has received from wealthy executives and other officials as evidence that his campaign is fighting to change the economic status quo.

“You can tell who is truly fighting for working families by the enemies they make, and we've made a lot of enemies,” the Democratic presidential hopeful said in a statement, calling for officials to have "guts" to take on corporate interests in the country.

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“Therefore, it should come as no surprise that corporate CEOs and billionaires have united against our movement. These people have a vested interest in preserving the status quo so they can keep their grip on power and continue to exploit working people across America. We welcome their hatred.” 

Sanders has long blasted billionaires and the "top 1 percent," a theme that dominated his insurgent primary bid against eventual nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMatt Gaetz ahead of Mueller hearing: 'We are going to reelect the president' What to expect when Mueller testifies: Not much McConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch MORE in 2016 and that has become central to his 2020 bid as well. He has touted economic policies aimed at rectifying historic inequalities while earning criticism from wealthy voices that his agenda would impose significant damage on the economy.

Included in the list of "anti-endorsements" are a number of current or former executives from major corporations, including Haim Saban, a billionaire Democratic donor; Kenneth Langone, co-founder of Home Depot; Andy Puzder, a former fast food CEO; Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase; Bob Iger, CEO of Disney; and others.

“In 2016 I saw Bernie Sanders and the kids around him. I thought: ‘This is the antichrist!’” the campaign quotes Langone as saying.

“All these proposals, Sanders’ proposals, they are just going to kill the growth,” the campaign says in another quote attributed to Puzder.

The Sanders camp also released a list of endorsements from a slate of progressives across the country.

The anti-endorsement list is the latest effort by Sanders to shore up support among progressives and working-class voters in the crowded Democratic primary race.

Unlike 2016, when he was able to carry the mantle for progressives, Sanders is now facing off against several primary contenders who have adopted similar stances on economic and social issues, splintering the support in the party's more liberal flank.