Bernie Sanders Speaks Out Against the Head of the DNC

May 22nd 2016

Aron Macarow

Things are getting increasingly tense between presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is also fighting to retain her Florida congressional seat.

Speaking Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," Sanders told host Jake Tapper that he supports Wasserman Schultz's primary opponent, Tim Canova, a South Florida law professor, who seeks to unseat the incumbent in Florida's 23rd congressional district.

"Clearly, I favor her opponent," Sanders told Tapper. "[Canova's] views are much closer to mine than ... to Wasserman Schultz's."

But Sanders didn't stop there.

The presidential candidate added that he clearly does not support Wasserman Schultz's retaining the chair of the DNC, even if she wins her congressional seat. At least, he won't if he's elected president.

Sanders said: "And let me also say this, in all due respect to the current chairperson, if elected president, she would not be re-appointed to be chair of the DNC."

Sanders didn't mince words later in the day, either.

Sunday morning's CNN appearance wasn't the only time that the Sanders campaign escalated its attack on the DNC chairwoman. Following the Vermont senator's televised interview, his campaign released a fundraising appeal on Canova's behalf. In it, Sanders told supporters why he favors Canova over Wasserman Schultz:

"The political revolution is not just about electing a president, brothers and sisters. We need a Congress with members who believe, like Bernie, that we cannot change a corrupt system by taking its money.

"So let me introduce you to Tim Canova, a progressive challenger who is running against Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in a Democratic primary in Florida this year.

"Tim endorsed Bernie’s presidential campaign and was inspired to run because of Wasserman Schultz’s support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. His campaign is funded, like ours, by lots of people giving small amounts of money."

Canova's campaign responded to Sander's endorsement in a statement (reported on Medium), thanking the senator and suggesting that the race was about more than just a congressional seat but also about the future of the Democratic party.

Meanwhile, Wasserman Schultz told NBC that she remains "neutral" in the presidential race:

"Even though Sen. Sanders has endorsed my opponent, I remain, as I have been from the beginning, neutral in the presidential Democratic primary. I look forward to working together with him for Democratic victories in the fall."

This isn't the first time that Sanders has picked a fight with the DNC chairwoman.

Sanders' statements on Sunday are just the latest in an escalating fight between the Vermont senator and the DNC chairwoman.

The Sanders campaign has been critical of Wasserman Schultz for some time, suggesting that she has favored his challenger, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, throughout the primary process. On Wednesday, Sander's campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, accused her of "throwing shade on the Sanders campaign" after her response to the recent Nevada State Democratic Convention.

Sanders' campaign has also pointed to the use of superdelegates in the Democratic primary and to closed primaries in high-delegate count states like New York as reasons to oppose the DNC chairwoman.