Bernie Sanders surrogates have made headlines lately with a number of off-message gaffes, but on Friday, former President Bill Clinton — arguably Hillary Clinton’s top surrogate — cracked a jaw-dropping joke of his own while stumping in the Bronx.
He told supporters at a New York City event that “it’s fine” that young students have come out in force for Sanders. The former president then took aim at one of the Vermont senator’s primary lines of attack against Hillary Clinton: Wall Street reform. “It sounds so good, just shoot every third person on Wall Street and everything will be fine,” Bill Clinton said.
The comment came on the heels of a particularly contentious debate Thursday night, during which Sanders again hammered Hillary Clinton for taking Wall Street money in the form of paid speeches. When pressed to release transcripts of said speeches, she deferred by attacking her rival on other fronts, including not releasing his tax returns.
After his speech on Friday, Bill Clinton told NBC News that he didn’t think he was being too dismissive of Sanders’ supporters and clarified that his remark moments earlier about Wall Street was “a joke, a total joke.”
The former president concluded, “You know, we all need to lighten up here, have a little sense of humor.”
After a few seconds, he turned back and appeared to refer to another debate moment — when Sanders worked to downplay his rival’s major primary wins in the South. “You know, surely he didn’t mean to denigrate her African-American supporters in the South, either,” he added.
Sanders said during the debate, “Secretary Clinton cleaned our clock in the Deep South. No question about it. We got murdered there.” He added, “We are out of the Deep South now.” Some felt the remarks risked alienating the African-American voters Sanders has struggled to win over.
The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows former Secretary Clinton with a 17-point lead over Sanders in New York, a state where Sanders was born and where Clinton was elected twice to the U.S. Senate.