ABC News moderator George Stephanopoulos asked every other candidate in the Democrat debate in New Hampshire on Friday evening — other than Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) — if they would be comfortable having a “democratic socialist” at the top of the party’s ticket in November.
It was a rare instance of a member of the mainstream media pinning Sanders down about his far-left ideology. But it also singled out Sanders alone.
Stephanopoulus, who once led communications for President Bill Clinton, began by asking former Vice President Joe Biden about his recent comments warning that President Donald Trump would love to run against a “democratic socialist.”
Sanders replied that it did not matter what his personal label was, because President Trump would give any candidate a label because he “lies” all of the time, regardless.
Asked why Democrats shouldn't be worried about Pres. Trump's attacks on him with the "socialist" label, Bernie Sanders says, "Because Donald Trump lies all the time." https://t.co/Rhy9aOaDTU #DemDebate pic.twitter.com/nzto98Fkpj
— ABC News (@ABC) February 8, 2020
But the moderator then turned to all of the other candidates, asking whether they shared Biden’s concern about having a “democratic socialist” running against Trump in the fall. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) was the only one who raised her hand. South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg said he did not worry about labels, but said that the party could not nominate someone who said “my way or the highway.”
When Stephanopolos asked whether he was referring to Sanders, Buttigieg said he was. ”
“Needless to say, I have never said that,” Sanders retorted, adding that the party needed a candidate who did not work for the “billionaire class” — a shot at Buttigieg, whom the Sanders campaign has criticized for his fundraising among the elite.
Sanders supporters have long suspected that the Democratic National Committee and the mainstream media moderators are determined to keep him from winning the nomination.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.