During a CNN town hall in Nevada, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) made it clear that he does not condone any aggressive behavior made by his supporters against others online. Sanders said that we live in a crazy time and there are people out there “who want to divide the progressive movement.”
On Sunday, a fight broke out at a Sanders rally in Denver.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: Hello, Senator Sanders. So I’m a big supporter, but for those who still need to hear it, will you condemn the “Bernie bro” behavior?
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: I will condemn, absolutely, anybody, including my campaign or any other campaign, that makes vicious personal attacks against people. What our people are involved in, we are a campaign which believes in compassion, which believes in justice. So I don’t tolerate ugly attacks against anybody.
But let me just say this. Talk to the people in my campaign, often the African-American women in this campaign, talk to my wife about the kind of ugly attacks that have come in to us. So right now, which is a very serious national problem, we have an internet which is essentially the wild West.
Somebody could say, hey, I’m Anderson Cooper and zippo, say some ugly things, and right now that cannot be stopped. All right? So, yes, I want to have this campaign focus on the important issues facing the American people. I have just said a moment ago, as I’ve said many times, I’m going to support — if I don’t win this thing, I’m going to support somebody else who wins it. All right? And I don’t want to see terrible personal attacks. We can disagree on the issues, not personal attacks.
But that is not just my campaign. We’ve got millions of supporters out there.
SANDERS: We’ve got millions and millions of supporters and I dare say, 99.9 percent are people who would never, ever do that. And I urge other candidates also to be mindful of these ugly personal attacks that have come into my campaign.
COOPER: I just want to follow up on that. Because some of your — some of the other candidates have raised this issue and I want you to be able to respond to what they said. It has been raised by Bloomberg. Also, former Vice President Biden said that you have some accountability. The Culinary Union, Nevada’s largest labor union, said some of its members faced online harassment after they announced concerned about Medicare for all.
SANDERS: Well, you know, as I said, I am — two things. Number one, I’m totally again online bullying and harassment. And I condemn anybody who claims to speak for me. You know, I have a hard time understanding, given my views, which everybody knows, how anybody who thinks they are supporting me would do some ugly and terrible thing.
But also, let me just say this. And I don’t — you know, want to be overly paranoid here — is that, you know, we live in a crazy time. And there are a lot of folks out there who do bots and all this other thing. I saw some of those things. And there are people out there who want to divide the progressive movement.
I am the strongest, perhaps, lifetime supporter of unions in the United States Congress. The idea that anybody who works with me would make a vicious attack against a union leader just because we disagree on an issue is incomprehensible to me. And you know what? I’m just not sure that that’s true.
And anybody out there — anybody out there who claims to be a Bernie Sanders supporter, we work with the unions. This is a union-led campaign. We believe in unions. We will never attack union leadership, and we will not attack people on a personal basis. We can have a debate about the issues, but I do not believe in online bullying, end of discussion.