Hillary Clinton said Tuesday evening that she will support the Democratic Party’s eventual presidential nominee, hours after an interview published in which the 2016 Democratic nominee declined to say whether she would endorse Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders if he wins the party’s nomination in 2020.
“I thought everyone wanted my authentic, unvarnished views!” Clinton tweeted. “But to be serious, the number one priority for our country and world is retiring Trump, and, as I always have, I will do whatever I can to support our nominee.”
The comment clears up an earlier statement from Clinton that rankled many Democratic operatives – and further highlighted the discord between Clinton and Sanders years after their contentious Democratic primary fight in 2016.
Earlier Tuesday, The Hollywood Reporter published an interview with the former secretary of state in which she was asked about lambasting Sanders in an upcoming documentary, saying in part that “nobody likes him.” She would not commit in the interview to supporting him as her party’s nominee.
THR asked Clinton: “If he gets the nomination, will you endorse and campaign for him?”
“I’m not going to go there yet,” Clinton responded. “We’re still in a very vigorous primary season.”
Clinton’s comments in the documentary are aimed directly at Sanders’ core campaign appeal – that he’s a political outsider pitching revolutionary change.
“He was in Congress for years. He had one senator support him. Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done,” Clinton says in documentary, according to THR. “He was a career politician. It’s all just baloney and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it.”
There is no love lost between Clinton and Sanders.
The Vermont senator mounted a vigorous campaign against Clinton in 2016 and the former first lady and her top supporters believe that Sanders’ campaign – and the fact that he did not drop out and endorse her until well into the summer of 2016 – hurt her candidacy and helped Republican President Donald Trump.
Clinton told Howard Stern in 2019 that she was “disappointed” with Sanders’ actions in 2016, adding that she hoped “he doesn’t do it again to whoever gets the nomination.”
“He could’ve (endorsed me earlier),” Clinton said at the time. “He hurt me. There’s no doubt about it, he hurt me.”
Sanders and his top advisers have pushed back against that, arguing that Sanders headlined a number of events for Clinton during the 2016 campaign once he dropped out.
“I’m sorry that Hillary Clinton is re-running 2016,” Sanders said in an interview with Iowa Press in December, adding that Clinton sent him a letter saying, “‘Thank you Bernie for working so hard to try to make me the President of the United States.’”
The comments Clinton made on Tuesday didn’t sit well some Democratic operatives.
“This is inexcusable,” tweeted Tommy Vietor, a former top aide to President Barack Obama. “If Bernie wins the nomination, we all need to work our asses off to help him win. If someone else is the nominee, we all do the same for them. Don’t kick up this bullshit right before Iowa, especially after complaining about Bernie’s lack of support in 2016.”
Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill tried to address the growing disagreement around her comments.
“She said ‘yet.’ She has repeatedly made clear that she isn’t committing to any candidate as the primary plays out, and more than anyone in the world she has shown time and again that she puts Democrats & our democracy above all else,” Merrill tweeted.
Sanders dodged the comments on Tuesday, issuing a statement focused, instead, on the Trump impeachment trial.
“Together,” he said, “we are going to go forward and defeat the most dangerous president in American history.”