Kennedy: Tanden called Sanders everything but 'ignorant slut'

Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) blasted President BidenJoe BidenPfizer CEO says vaccine data for those under 5 could be available by end of year Omicron coronavirus variant found in at least 10 states Photos of the Week: Schumer, ASU protest and sea turtles MORE's nominee to head his budget office over her past rhetoric against Republicans and progressives alike, including Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Health Care — Presented by March of Dimes — Abortion access for 65M women at stake Hospitals in underserved communities face huge cuts in reckless 'Build Back Better' plan Sanders urges Biden to delay Medicare premium hike linked to Alzheimer's drug MORE (I-Vt.), using his trademark colorful language.

"I'm very disturbed about your personal comments about people," he said at a Senate Budget Committee confirmation hearing for Neera TandenNeera TandenBiden should seek some ideological diversity Conservatives target Biden pick for New York district court GOP holds on Biden nominees set back gains for women in top positions MORE, Biden's nominee to direct the White House Office of Management and Budget.

"I mean, you called Sen. Sanders everything but an ignorant slut."

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The remark was a reference to "Saturday Night Live" skits from the 1970s involving the "Weekend Update" anchors Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin.

Tanden, who faced significant criticism in two hearings over harsh comments she made on Twitter while heading the Center for American Progress think tank, interjected to Kennedy's remark.

"That is not true," she said, before reiterating that she regretted her past comments.

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Earlier in the hearing, Sanders himself called her previous comments "vicious."

Tanden, who had worked as an aide in Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublican Ohio Senate candidate slams JD Vance over previous Trump comments Budowsky: Why GOP donors flock to Manchin and Sinema Countering the ongoing Republican delusion MORE's Senate office and vociferously backed her candidacy for president in 2016, deleted a slew of old tweets in recent months.

She had also compared Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHospitals in underserved communities face huge cuts in reckless 'Build Back Better' plan To counter China, the Senate must confirm US ambassadors The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Congress avoids shutdown MORE (R-Texas) to a vampire and Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellUS could default within weeks absent action on debt limit: analysis The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Congress avoids shutdown Senate dodges initial December crisis with last-minute deal MORE (R-Ky.) to "Harry Potter" villain Voldemort.

Kennedy pressed her on whether she meant what she said at the time.

"I must have meant them, but I really regret them," Tanden said after repeatedly evading the question.

Tanden found support on the issue from some Democrats, who noted a double standard given the incendiary rhetoric that former President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — State Dept. employees targets of spyware Ohio Republican Party meeting ends abruptly over anti-DeWine protesters Jan. 6 panel faces new test as first witness pleads the Fifth MORE repeatedly dished out on Twitter.

“We’ve endured four years of the ultimate mean tweets," said Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Dems seek to preserve climate provisions Democrats wrangle to keep climate priorities in spending bill  Senate parliamentarian looms over White House spending bill MORE (D-Mich.).

"I know we were all thinking that, and certainly I don’t want to hold you to a higher standard, but we certainly want to turn the page on how we move forward together,” she added.

As the hearing came to a close, Kennedy issued a humorous point of clarification to Sanders.

"I want the record to reflect that I did not call Sen. Sanders an ignorant slut," he said.

"I don't know how I should take that, Sen. Kennedy," Sanders responded.