Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was open to the idea of superdelegates choosing the Democrat nominee when he ran against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016 — a view that contrasts with his current opposition to such a scenario.
Sanders stands as the only Democrat candidate who has explicitly stated that the individual who goes into the Democratic National Convention this summer with the most pledged delegates should be the party’s nominee, even if it is short of a majority.
“Well, the process includes 500 super delegates on the second ballot. So I think that the will of the people should prevail, yes. The person who has the most votes should become the nominee,” Sanders said during the Democrat debate in Las Vegas, Nevada.
However, Sanders did not always feel that way. He appeared open to the idea of a contested convention when he ran in 2016.
“We have the momentum, and I think a lot of the superdelegates are now beginning to look at which Democratic candidate is in the best place to defeat Donald Trump,” he said during an appearance on Meet the Press on March 27, 2016.
“I think some of them are beginning to understand that it’s Bernie Sanders,” he added.
In May 2016, Sanders was asked, “If you do not secure the majority of pledged delegates, do you still believe that superdelegates should switch and back you, rejecting the opinion of the voters?”
Sanders said “yes” and nodded his head.
“If those superdelegates conclude that Bernie Sanders is the best candidate, the strongest candidate to defeat Trump and anybody else, yes I would very much welcome their support,” he said.
CNN’s Jake Tapper also pitched the question to Sanders that month, asking, “Should the person with the most pledged delegates be the democratic nominee?”
“Well, I think if that’s the only criteria, then you get rid of all the superdelegates, which may not be a bad idea. But you do have superdelegates,” he said, adding that they are tasked with taking an “objective look at reality.”
— The Fix (@thefix) February 27, 2020
In 2016, Sanders made many of the same arguments that his critics, who believe that superdelegates should vote their conscience in the event of a contested convention, are making.
Many moderate and establishment Democrats fear President Trump will be easily able to exploit Sanders’ brand of socialism, and they worry that a Sanders ticket will hurt their chances of maintaining control of the House.
The New York Times recently spoke to dozens of superdelegates and Democrat party leaders and discovered “overwhelming opposition to handing the Vermont senator the nomination if he arrived with the most delegates but fell short of a majority.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) criticized Sanders’ newfound stance during a CNN town hall in South Carolina on Wednesday.
“That was Bernie’s position in 2016, that it should not go to the person who had a plurality. So, and remember, his last play was to superdelegates,” she said.
“So, the way I see this is you write the rules before you know where everybody stands, and then you stick with those rules,” she added.