Bernie Sanders is standing by his warning that this summer’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia could get “messy” after some interpreted his comments as a suggestion of violence on the part of his supporters.
Clarifying the remarks he made in an earlier interview with The Associated Press, the Democratic hopeful said on the Today show Tuesday, “The media often takes words out of context. The context of that was that democracy is messy. That people will have vigorous debate on the issues.”
“That’s what democracy is about,” he added.
Sanders raised some eyebrows when he told The AP in an interview published Tuesday morning: “I think if they [the Democratic Party] make the right choice and open the doors to working-class people and young people and create the kind of dynamism that the Democratic Party needs, it’s going to be messy. Democracy is not always nice and quiet and gentle but that is where the Democratic Party should go.”
Asked by The AP if the convention could be problematic, Sanders said: “So what? Democracy is messy. Every day my life is messy. But if you want everything to be quiet and orderly and allow, you know, just things to proceed without vigorous debate, that is not what democracy is about.”
The Vermont senator, a self-described Democratic socialist, has come under fire recently for what some see as his failure to fully condemn the violence and death threats allegedly made by his supporters at the Nevada State Democratic Party Convention on May 14. Though he said in his interview with The AP that he will “condemn any and all forms of violence,” some interpreted the senator’s warning of a “messy” convention as “a subliminal message to his supporters to create chaos in Philadelphia,” Politico reports.
Sanders’ campaign manager Jeff Weaver said Tuesday on CNN‘s New Day that the “messy” comment referred not to violence but only to votes on the floor of the Wells Fargo Center.
“Look, there’s a process that goes on at the Democratic convention,” Weaver said. “There’s a committee process, and then if you don’t prevail in the committee process you can go to the floor in many cases and have the delegates as a whole vote on your proposals, and that’s just the way the process works. So I think – what the senator was referring to is, he intends to press his case for a progressive agenda within the Democratic Party, press his case for electoral reform bringing many more into the Democratic Party, makes the Democratic Party stronger and there’s a process for doing that at the convention.”
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In his Today show interview Tuesday, Sanders also dismissed the suggestion that his continued presence in the race is damaging rival [LINK‘s chances” “” “” “0” ] of defeating presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.
“Well, I guess if we take your assumption and Clinton supporters’ assumption to the logical conclusion, you know what we should do? We should go back to a monarchy, and not have any elections at all,” Sanders said.
And at a rally in Santa Monica, California, Monday night, Sanders blasted Clinton for backing out of a scheduled debate with him before the state’s Democratic primary on June 7.
“Our campaign and her campaign had reached an agreement on a number of debates including one here in California in May,” Sanders told supporters. “I gotta tell you this. I think it is a little bit insulting to the people of California, our largest state, that she is not prepared to have a discussion with me about how she will help the Californians address the major crises we face.”
Clinton, who has largely turned her focus to Trump in recent weeks, issued a statement Monday declining to participate in the debate that was set to take place two weeks before the California primary.
“We believe that Hillary Clinton’s time is best spent campaigning and meeting directly with voters across California and preparing for a general election campaign that will ensure the White House remains in Democratic hands,” Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s communications director, said in a statement.