The Debate Rages: Is Bernie Really a Democrat? Is Hillary Really a Republican?
After losing to Bernie Sanders six times in a row, Hillary Clinton is grasping at threads for a legitimate attack on her opponent. In an interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo yesterday, Clinton tried to claim that Sanders isn't a Democrat after Cuomo shared Sanders' campaign manager Jeff Weaver's critical remarks with Clinton.
“Hillary Clinton needs to be careful not to destroy the Democratic Party, merely in pursuit of her own ambition to be president,” Cuomo read. Clinton laughed. “It’s just ludicrous,” she responded. “You know, I have been campaigning for Democrats, fundraising for Democrats, recruiting Democrats to run and win for about 40 years and Senator Sanders by his own admission has never even been a Democrat."
Perhaps Clinton thought she'd gone too far. Today she switched up her message, claiming she's "not even sure" Sanders is a Democrat, as if running on the Democratic ticket wouldn't be the slightest comfirmation.
While Sanders had been the longest-serving independent in U.S. congressional history, running as an independent would mean not only losing out on debates but potentially helping Republicans win by taking votes away from the Democratic Party.
"[I knew] if we were serious about winning this election, which is always my intention from day one, I had to do it within the Democratic primary caucus process," Sanders told CBS last September. "What I did not want to do is run as a third-party candidate, take votes away from the Democratic candidate and help elect some right-wing Republican. I did not want responsibility for that."
Not only has Clinton not always been a Democrat, she was once a Republican, albeit during college in 1968, though her views evolved with the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement.
When implying Sanders is hijacking the party, it's just as plausible Clinton’s increase in left-leaning policies, ranging from marriage equality to Wall Street reform, have been predominantly adopted for political gain.
An estimated 1 in 4 Sanders supporters won't vote for Clinton if she is the nominee, which would force Clinton to either move left and align with the former Independent, or move right and try to pick up Republicans who won't vote for Trump.
“I understand they’re getting anxious, I get that," she told Cuomo. "But they need to be thoughtful about what they do and say because at the end of the day we need a Democratic president to succeed President Obama and to protect and further the progress we’ve made under his eight years in office."
On the other hand, maybe it's Clinton who's getting nervous. The latest polls show her leading by only 10 points in New York.