Sen. Bernie Sanders denounced “bullying” when he was asked to disavow the “Bernie bro behavior” of his supporters during a CNN town hall.
The Vermont senator and 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful, who was questioned about the highly criticized behavior of some of his staunchest supporters, condemned the “vicious personal attacks” against any candidate.
Maria Carillo, a Sanders supporter and independent caretaker from Las Vegas, confronted the lawmaker on the issue during Tuesday’s CNN town hall in Nevada.
“For those who still need to hear it, will you condemn the Bernie bro behavior?” she asked.
“I will condemn, absolutely anybody, including my campaign or any other campaign, that makes vicious personal attacks against people. What our people are involved in, we are a campaign which believes in compassion, which believes in justice,” Sanders replied.
“So I don’t tolerate ugly attacks against anybody,” he added.
Sanders went on to note the “ugly attacks” that have been leveled at members of his campaign, calling it a “national problem.”
“We have an internet which is essentially the wild west,” he told the audience.
“I’ve said many times, I’m going to support — if I don’t win this thing, I’m going to support somebody else who wins it. All right? And I don’t want to see terrible personal attacks. We can disagree on the issues, not personal attacks,” Sanders emphasized.
“But that is not just my campaign. We’ve got millions and millions of supporters and I dare say, 99.9% are people who would never, ever do that,” he continued., taking the focus off of his supporters. “And I urge other candidates also to be mindful of these ugly personal attacks that have come into my campaign.”
Some of his 2020 rivals have called attention to what has been called “bullying” by supporters of the 78-year-old democratic socialist. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg addressed it the issue in a campaign advertisement launched on Monday while former Vice President Joe Biden called on Sanders to “take accountability” for the behavior of his supporters.
Biden calls for Bernie to babysit his supporters better https://t.co/xXMNXaD62h
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) February 16, 2020
You know me well enough to know if any of my supporters did that, I’d disown them. Flat disown them,” Biden told NBC host Chuck Todd in a “Meet the Press” interview.
Todd himself was the target of backlash last week after he quoted an article that compared Sanders supporters to Nazis, calling them a “digital brown shirt brigade.”
Sanders’ Colorado campaign rally earlier this week was the scene of a brief fight between two men reportedly over a shirt that said “Black Guns Matter.”
‘Black Guns Matter’ shirt reportedly sparks brawl at Bernie Sander’s rally https://t.co/kvaEw0uE0E
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) February 18, 2020
Sen. Elizabeth Warren condemned recent attacks by her opponent’s supporters on Nevada’s Culinary Union for not supporting Medicare for All.
“That is not how we build an inclusive Democratic Party.” the Massachusetts senator said. “We do not build on a foundation of hate.”
During Tuesday’s CNN town hall with Sanders, host Anderson Cooper followed up on the “Bernie Bros” question by bringing up the criticisms.
“The culinary union, Nevada’s largest labor union, said some of its members faced online harassment after they announced concerns about Medicare for All,” he said.
“Number one, I’m totally against online bullying and harassment,” Sanders responded.
“And I can condemn anybody who claims — you know, I have a hard time understanding, given my views, which everybody knows, how anybody who thinks they are supporting me would do some ugly and terrible things,” he added.
“But also, let me just say this — and I don’t want to be overly paranoid here — is that we live in a crazy time. And there are a lot of folks out there who do bots and all this other thing. I saw some of those things. And there are people out there who want to divide the progressive movement,” Sanders warned.
“I am the strongest, perhaps, lifetime supporter of unions in the United States Congress. The idea that anybody who works with me would make a vicious attack against a union leader, just because we disagree on an issue, is incomprehensible to me,” he continued, adding that he was “not sure that that’s true.”
“Anybody out there who claims to be a Bernie Sanders supporter, we work with the unions. This is a union-led campaign. We believe in unions. We will never attack union leadership and we will not attack people on a personal basis,” he declared.
“We can have a debate about the issues,” Sanders concluded. “But I do not believe in online bullying, end of discussion.”
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