Hillary Clinton says she’ll support Sanders if he’s nominated by Democrats
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Hillary Clinton says she’ll support Sanders if he’s nominated by Democrats

Despite previous disparaging comments about her 2016 rival, former US secretary of state says her top priority is defeating Trump; Democrats unload on Sanders ahead of key debate

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attends a news conference for the film 'Hillary' during the 70th International Film Festival Berlin, Berlinale in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attends a news conference for the film 'Hillary' during the 70th International Film Festival Berlin, Berlinale in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

BERLIN — Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has expressed her skepticism about Bernie Sanders but said she will support the Democratic nominee regardless of who it is.

Clinton, who beat Sanders for the Democratic nomination only to lose the 2016 election to US President Donald Trump, made waves with comments about Sanders in the new documentary “Hillary” saying “nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him.”

But in comments at the Berlinale film festival Tuesday where she was promoting the four-hour documentary that will debut on Hulu in March, Clinton said her top priority was unseating Trump.

“I’m going to wait and see who we nominate,” she said. “I will support the nominee, and it won’t surprise you to hear me say that I think that it’s imperative that we retire the incumbent.”

Sanders is facing the greatest test of his presidential campaign as his Democratic rivals prepare to launch a series of attacks on the Vermont senator during what could be a pivotal debate on the eve of the South Carolina primary.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during First in the South Dinner, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in Charleston, South Carolina (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

With mounting fear among the Democratic establishment that the self-described democratic socialist is on the verge of gaining a significant lead in the delegates needed to secure the nomination, several candidates are resorting to a last ditch effort to stop him. The day before Tuesday night’s debate in Charleston, they previewed their lines of attack in a series of digital or television advertisements.

Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, highlighted Sanders’ call for a government-financed health care system as an example of his “polarization.” Former Vice President Joe Biden accused Sanders of trying to undermine President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection. And former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg assailed Sanders’ record on gun control.

The new wave of infighting came just hours before seven Democrats were set to meet for the party’s 10th — and perhaps most consequential — debate of the 2020 primary season. And it marked a seminal moment in Sanders’ political career. After spending decades as an outside agitator accustomed to attacking the party establishment, he’s suddenly the one on defense.

Democratic presidential candidate former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks during a campaign event, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in North Charleston, South Carolina (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

His handling of the pressure could be crucial in determining whether he stays at the top of the Democratic pack. During a town hall Monday night televised on CNN, Sanders said he expected the attacks. But he still seemed to be adjusting to his new status.

“It is a little funny to find myself as the so-called front-runner,” he said.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the First in the South Dinner, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in Charleston, South Carolina (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Other candidates also have a lot on the line for Tuesday’s forum. After a stumbling debate debut last week, Bloomberg is seeking an opportunity to regain his footing. Biden, meanwhile, is looking to make a big impression in a state where he was long viewed as the unquestioned front-runner because of his support from black voters.

Campaigning in South Carolina the day before the debate, Biden predicted he would win “by plenty” on Saturday

Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg speaks during a campaign event, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Having finished on top in three consecutive primary contests — including a tie in Iowa — Sanders is eyeing a knockout blow, however. He has shifted new staff into the state from Nevada in recent days, expanded his South Carolina advertising and added events to his schedule.

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