Vice-president said Democrats aren’t fundamentally split after state convention that allegedly ‘ended in chaos and physical threats’ from Sanders supporters
Vice-president Joe Biden on Wednesday downplayed simmering tensions in the Democratic race for president as pressure mounts on Bernie Sanders to condemn supporters who threatened party leaders at a state party convention in Nevada last weekend.
Speaking to reporters during a visit to the battleground state of Ohio, where the vice-president delivered remarks on the economy, Biden said “there’s no fundamental split in the Democratic party”.
“I’m confident that Bernie will be supportive if Hillary wins, which the numbers indicate will happen. So I’m not worried,” he said, following a retail stop at a local market with Senate candidate Ted Strickland of Ohio.
“Bernie Sanders is a good guy. Let Bernie run the race. There’s nothing wrong with that,” he added, pointing out that Clinton in 2008 remained in the Democratic primary until June.
When asked if he had seen video footage of Sanders supporters displaying their frustration with the nominating process in Nevada by throwing chairs and hurling death threats, Biden sought to separate their actions from the senator from Vermont and his candidacy.
“That’s not Bernie, and what Bernie’s going to have to do if that happens again – he’s going to have to be more aggressive in speaking out about it,” Biden said.The Nevada Democratic party issued a formal complaint on Tuesday in response to the conduct of Sanders supporters, in which it characterized the weekend’s events as “a very dangerous atmosphere that ended in chaos and physical threats to fellow Democrats”.
Sanders, in turn, issued a statement condemning “any and all forms of violence” but also fired back that the Democratic party of Nevada had used its power “to prevent a fair and transparent process from taking place”.
His reaction earned the scorn of Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who in an interview with CNN on Tuesday evening said Sanders’ response “was anything but acceptable”.
“It certainly did not condemn the supporters for the violence and added more fuel to the fire,” she said. “There should never be a ‘but’ when it comes to violence and intimidation.”
Biden expressed certainty that despite the fracas, Sanders supporters would eventually come around to Clinton in a general election.
He also reflected on her vice-presidential choices, observing that Sherrod Brown, the senator from Ohio who accompanied Biden on the trip, would be “a great choice”.
“But there’s a lot of really qualified folks for number two,” he added. “Hillary has a plethora of really good people to pick from, for real.”
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