Bernie Sanders should "spell out" evidence that Hillary Clinton's Wall Street contributions and speaking fees made her weak on financial regulation, two Clinton aides said Thursday.
"If he's going to raise the specter of contributions that have been made to her from the financial industry, he should have to complete the thought, and lay out exactly what he’s accusing her of,” press secretary Brian Fallon said at Bloomberg Politics breakfast briefing in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Sanders “needs to put his thumb on exactly where she has soft pedaled her approach to Wall Street based on the contributions that she’s received," Fallon added, "because there's no such example in her record anywhere” or in any of her campaign proposals.
Leaning on a common Clinton talking point, campaign manager Robby Mook chimed in that the "biggest proof point" that Clinton would be tough on Wall Street as president is “who are the hedge fund billionaires spending their money attacking? Hillary Clinton." Pressed on the fact that Clinton has support from other hedge fund billionaires, Mook responded: “He's getting contributions from bank employees as well -- every candidate is."
Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Clinton canceled two fundraisers in the past week hosted by people in the financial sector, but Mook said that's not an effort to deflect criticism of her ties to the industry. "We added a forum and a debate this week and there’s a lot of campaigning that we want to do and so we just made a determination that we needed more time here to campaign," he said.
Still, the Clinton campaign continues to try to downplay the quarter-century attachment that the family has to the state, dating back to Bill Clinton's second-place finish in the 1992 primary. Mook said Clinton faces "pretty significant headwinds," in part thanks to Sanders' representation of neighboring Vermont in the U.S. Congress. (Mook, a Vermont native, also noted he volunteered for the democratic socialist's 1992 campaign back when he was just 13, before he got involved in Democratic politics.)
"If we're talking about expectations, we’re coming in with polls showing us 30 points down," Mook said.
“The way we won Iowa, if Senator Sanders wins here, we will be happy to say that he won," he said when asked if the mantra "a win is a win" applies in the Granite State.
Sanders' success in online fundraising guarantees he'll be able to continue to campaign well into the spring, Mook acknowledged, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, Fallon said, arguing a longer contest with Sanders wouldn't harm Clinton’s prospects in the general election if nominated and actually “makes our campaign stronger” by engaging millions of voters in a protracted primary process.
After the breakfast, the Clinton campaign announced it had raised $15 million in primary-race contributions in January, which is short of the $20 million Sanders claimed for the same period. It was Clinton's "best grassroots fundraising month of the campaign," with 95 percent of donations under $100, according to a statement. Clinton also raised $5 million for the Democratic National Committee and state parties, her campaign said.