Rep. Cunningham blasts Sanders: 'South Carolinians don't want socialism'

Rep. Joe CunninghamJoseph CunninghamMace chief of staff steps down during turbulent week Pediatrician unveils challenge to GOP's Mace in South Carolina 'Blue wave' Democrats eye comebacks after losing reelection MORE (D-S.C.) said Wednesday he does not support Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersShame on Biden for his Atlanta remarks — but are we surprised? Overnight Health Care — Biden faces pressure from Democrats on COVID-19 Sanders calls out Manchin, Sinema ahead of filibuster showdown MORE’s (I-Vt.) proposals that the congressman labeled as “socialism.” 

“South Carolinians don’t want socialism,” Cunningham said in a statement to The Post and Courier

“We want to know how you are going to get things done and how you are going to pay for them," added Cunningham, a Democrat who flipped a seat in 2018 that was long held by Republicans. "Bernie’s proposals to raise taxes on almost everyone is not something the Lowcountry wants and not something I’d ever support.”

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Sanders, who won Tuesday night’s New Hampshire primary after a successful showing in the Iowa caucuses, has become the front-runner in the primary race. The Vermont senator has described himself as a democratic socialist. 

Asked if he would support Sanders if he wins the party nomination, Cunningham told the Post “Bernie Sanders will not be the nominee.” 

A spokesperson for the Sanders campaign was not immediately available for comment. 

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenMadame Tussauds unveils new Biden and Harris figures US raises concerns about Russian troop movements to Belarus Putin tests a model for invading Ukraine, outwitting Biden's diplomats MORE made similar comments to Cunningham over the weekend. Biden said that Sanders’s label as a democratic socialist would create a “bigger uphill climb” for down ballot candidates in more moderate districts. 

Cunningham told the Post he does not plan to make an endorsement ahead of the state’s Feb. 29 primary. The only other Democratic congressman from the state, House Majority Whip James Clyburn, has also not endorsed a candidate in the primary.

Biden is leading the field in South Carolina, the first nominating state with a significant African American  population, according to a RealClearPolitics average of polls in the state. Biden has 31 percent support, followed by philanthropist Tom SteyerTom SteyerYouth voting organization launches M registration effort in key battlegrounds Overnight Energy: 'Eye of fire,' Exxon lobbyist's comments fuel renewed attacks on oil industry | Celebrities push Biden to oppose controversial Minnesota pipeline | More than 75 companies ask Congress to pass clean electricity standard Celebrities push Biden to oppose controversial Minnesota pipeline MORE at 18.5 percent. Sanders closely tails in third at 17 percent, based on the average.