Hillary Clinton has been making the rounds lately to promote her latest book which attempts to explain, from her point of view, what happened during the 2016 presidential election. While she has a few kind words to say about Bernie Sanders, the sentiment is almost entirely negative.
The Hill reports on how Hillary blames Bernie for one of Donald Trump’s most frequently-repeated attacks:
Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is blaming Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for doing “lasting damage” to her campaign and of “paving the way” for President Trump’s attack against her as “Crooked Hillary.”
According to excerpts of Clinton’s new campaign tell-all book, “What Happened,” Clinton claims that she wanted to fight back against Sanders’s characterization of her as beholden to corporate influence but that former President Obama and others advised her to stay quiet.
“Throughout the primaries, every time I wanted to hit back against Bernie’s attacks, I was told to restrain myself,” Clinton writes. “Noting that his plans didn’t add up, that they would inevitably mean raising taxes on middle-class families, or that they were little more than a pipe-dream — all of this could be used to reinforce his argument that I wasn’t a true progressive. My team kept reminding me that we didn’t want to alienate Bernie’s supporters. President Obama urged me to grit my teeth and lay off Bernie as much as I could. I felt like I was in a straitjacket.” [Emphasis added]
Even President Obama does not make it out unscathed, as the last sentence shows. The conventional wisdom on the Democratic side was that Hillary was at risk of going too hard against Bernie, which would somehow create a backlash against her, perhaps costing her the nomination. As someone who observed the entire 2016 cycle from beginning to end, it was evident that Hillary was holding back, and came across at times of being fearful that hitting Bernie hard would be like opening a can of worms she couldn’t contain.
In the remaining months of the campaign, Donald Trump wasted no opportunities to point out that Bernie Sanders often accused Hillary of being in the pocket of Wall Street, and perhaps corrupt in other ways. That genuinely could have been seriously damaging to her campaign since it appeared both the “outsiders” were at least in agreement that the “insider” was bad news.
Rather than blame Sanders directly, I think the tiny Democratic primary field in 2016 probably had more to do with the grievances between Hillary and Bernie than the fact that they were the only ones left. It’s arguable that if there was a larger field to begin with, perhaps Sanders wouldn’t have been able to grab a good chunk of primary voters. Then again, with Hillary’s impending 2016 candidacy, was it ever likely that any major names wanted to risk losing to the Clinton machine? Bernie came out of nowhere to be the thorn in her side, and I imagine that today there is very little love lost between both camps.