NEW YORK: Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has launched a scathing attack on presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, her rival for the 2016 Democratic nomination, telling a documentary that “nobody likes him”.
Clinton, 72, also refused to say whether she would endorse and campaign for Sanders if he becomes the Democrats’ choice to take on President Donald Trump in November’s election.
Her comments drew the ire of Sanders’ supporters, who called on Clinton to support whoever the party backs in their bid to remove Trump from the White House.
“He was in Congress for years. He had one senator support him,” Clinton says in a four-part series due to air on streaming site Hulu in March.
“Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done. He was a career politician.
“It’s all just baloney and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it,” she adds.
Sanders, a leftist senator from Vermont, is among the leaders in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
He sits second in national polls behind centrist Joe Biden and ahead of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, two weeks before the first nomination vote in Iowa.
Sanders, 78, pushed Clinton to the wire four years ago in an acrimonious, months-long battle for the party’s nomination. Clinton won that race but lost to Trump.
She has criticised Sanders and his supporters for not sufficiently backing her in the presidential vote.
In an interview about the documentary with The Hollywood Reporter, Clinton stopped short of saying she would support Sanders if he won the nomination this time around.
“I’m not going to go there yet. We’re still in a very vigorous primary season,” she said.
Sanders played down the attack, telling reporters that he was focused on Trump’s impeachment trial, which kicked off in earnest on Tuesday.
“On a good day, my wife likes me, so let’s clear the air on that one,” he joked.
The Justice Democrats, a group close to Sanders, started a petition calling on Clinton to support whoever wins the nomination.
The former first lady and US senator also waded into a dispute Warren is having with Sanders.
Warren has accused him of telling her privately in December 2018, as they contemplated White House runs, that he did not believe a woman could win a presidential election.
Sanders denies the claim but Clinton said the comment was “part of a pattern”.
“If it were a one-off, you might say, ‘OK, fine.’ But he said I was unqualified,” she recalled.
“It’s the culture around him. It’s his leadership team. It’s his prominent supporters. It’s his online Bernie Bros and their relentless attacks on lots of his competitors, particularly the women,” she added.
Sanders apologised to Biden on Monday after one of his supporters, Zephyr Teachout, wrote an opinion article in The Guardian accusing the former vice president of having “a big corruption problem”.