Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) responded to criticism surrounding actress and supporter Rosario Dawson’s statement that the Hillary Clinton campaign is bullying Sanders fans the way the Clintons treated Monica Lewinsky.
Sanders faced that criticism for not condemning Dawson. During an interview with CNN‘s Jake Tapper on State of the Union on Sunday, Sanders defended and praised Dawson’s overall performance on the campaign trial. “Rosario is a great actress and she’s doing a great job for us. She’s been a passionate fighter to see that we increase the voter turnout, that we fight for racial, economic, environmental justice.”
When Tapper asked Sanders if he thought it was acceptable for Dawson to have brought up Lewinsky, Sanders quickly changed the focus to his platform. “I have no idea in what context Rosario was talking about her,” Sanders said. “But I would hope that all of our people would focus on the real issues facing working people and the massive level of wealth and income inequality.”
During a Sanders rally on Saturday, Dawson had stated: “We are literally under attack for not just supporting the other candidate. Now I’m with Monica Lewinsky with this: Bullying is bad. She’s actually dedicated her life now to talking about that. And now as a campaign strategy, we are being bullied.”
Clinton campaign press secretary Nick Merrill told CNN that their campaign will “absolutely not” address Dawson’s comments. However, he suggested Sanders remaining mum on the issue was a form of encouragement for Dawson and suggested Tapper “ask the Sanders campaign why they encourage this vitriol in the vicinity of their candidate by staying silent.”