Former President Bill Clinton's restraint on the stump ended Sunday as he accused Bernie Sanders of intentionally deceiving voters and assailed the Vermont senator's supporters for attacking his wife's backers.
“When you're making a revolution you can’t be too careful with the facts,” he told a crowd of nearly 300 gathered for a late-afternoon rally at Milford Middle School in New Hampshire, listing the ways that he said Sanders and his supporters have been dishonest or disrespectful to Hillary Clinton and those who defend her on social media.
Without using the term, Clinton referred to so-called “Bernie bros” who confront Clinton supporters, campaign staffers and journalists online, often using what critics say is sexist language. “People who have gone online to defend Hillary and explain why they support her have been subject to vicious trolling and attacks that are literally too profane—not to mention sexist—to repeat,” he said.
Sanders distanced his campaign from such tactics in a Sunday interview on CNN's State of the Union.
“I have heard about it. It's disgusting,” Sanders said. “Look, we don't want that crap. ... We will do everything we can and I think we have tried. Look, anybody who is supporting me that is doing the sexist things is—we don't want them. I don't want them. That is not what this campaign is about.”
Clinton cited a blog post published last week by a woman who called herself “one of the most ardent Hillary haters on the planet” but who has come to support the former secretary of state after reading her State Department-era e-mails and a piece by left-leaning writer Joan Walsh, who recently recalled the negative experiences that she and her daughter, who works for the Clinton campaign, have had online.
The former president also cut into the Sanders campaign for its breach late last year of Clinton campaign voter data. “It was your campaign that made 25 separate inquiries in the mere space of 30 minutes trying to breach information out of computers,” he said. “In private [the Sanders campaign] sent an e-mail complaining [about the Democratic National Committee] leaving the keys in the car, and said, ‘All I did was drive off.’”
Sanders then raised money off the incident, Clinton noted. “You gotta give it to 'em,” he said. “I mean, that’s really good.”
Jeff Weaver, Sanders' campaign manager, hit back at the former president Sunday in Manchester.
"It’s unfortunate that President Clinton is choosing to engage in the kind of negative attacks that he is on the eve of the New Hampshire primary,” Weaver said. “Clearly this is a sign that the Clinton campaign is very concerned about the state of the race and the fact that recent national polls have shown that this is really a race that is down to one or two percentage points difference.”
The former president's comments are reminiscent of his behavior in the run-up to the 2008 New Hampshire primary, when he said that then-Senator Barack Obama’s positioning on the Iraq war was “the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen.” Obama, of course, went on to defeat Hillary Clinton in the nomination contest.
"The hotter this election gets, the more I wish I was just the former president and just for a few months not the spouse of the next one," Clinton said on Monday in Manchester, adding he has to be "careful of what I say."
On Sunday, Bill Clinton further scolded Sanders for being part of the near-unanimous House vote in favor of the 2000 Commodity Futures Modernization Act. “Her opponent, a champion of all things small, an enemy of all things big, voted for that bill. But you will never hear her say that he is the tool of Wall Street because of that,” Clinton said, neglecting to mention that he was the president who signed that bill into law.
“They made a mistake but it did contribute to the failure of Lehman Brothers,” he said. Clinton has said he regrets signing the bill, but that hasn't stopped his wife from bringing it up on the debate stage.
Clinton also chastised Sanders and his campaign for suggesting that newspapers that have endorsed his wife, including the Boston Globe, are part of the “establishment” while also claiming that some of those same papers and groups had good things to say about Sanders. “Today they used a veteran's name and he didn’t endorse,” Clinton said, referring to a report in the Valley News about the Sanders campaign’s use of a photo of a leader of the American Legion in New Hampshire who has been careful not to endorse anyone in the presidential race.