Since he launched his presidential campaign last month, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has regularly castigated the media for goading him into attacking Hillary Clinton instead of asking him about the important issues facing America. On Sunday’s Reliable Sources, the trend came to a head when Sanders told Brian Stelter that he will keep any criticism of Clinton tied solely to those issues.
“Will I criticize Hillary Clinton on her position of [the Trans-Pacific Partnership], or the lack of position?” he asked rhetorically. “Will I criticize her on her views of Wall Street? Will I criticize her on foreign policy? That’s what democracy is about. But taking cheap shots at people, making it personal, I don’t think that’s what politics should be about.”
But then, less than two days later in an interview with CNBC’s John Harwood, Sanders ended up making what sure sounds like a “personal” attack on the Clintons. After six questions about the economy, Harwood arrived as his inevitable Clinton inquiry, this one concerning the nearly $30 million Hillary and Bill Clinton have reportedly made in the last 16 months.
“What does that kind of money do to a politician’s perspective on the struggles you were just talking about?” Harwood asked, blurring the line between the personal and the political. “Does it make it difficult for recipients of that kind of income to take on the system?”
Here’s how Sanders attempted to thread the needle:
“Well, theoretically, you could be a multibillionaire and, in fact, be very concerned about the issues of working people. Theoretically, that’s true.
I think sometimes what can happen is that — it’s not just the Clintons — when you hustle money like that, you don’t sit in restaurants like this. You sit in restaurants where you’re spending — I don’t know what they spend — hundreds of dollars for dinner and so forth. That’s the world that you’re accustomed to, and that’s the world view that you adopt. You’re not worrying about a kid three blocks away from here whose mom can’t afford to feed him. So yes, I think that can isolate you — that type of wealth has the potential to isolate you from the reality of the world.”
The argument that the Clintons’ tendency to “hustle money” may be “isolating” them from “reality” speaks to the issue of income inequality that is central to Sanders’ campaign. But despite his assurances over the past days and weeks, it is fundamentally an attack on the Democratic frontrunner’s “personal” wealth and not her political positions.
Watch the interview below, via CNBC:
[Photo via screengrab]
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