Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and rival candidate U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speak simultaneously at the NBC News - YouTube Democratic presidential candidates debate, Jan. 17, 2016. 
Photo by Randall Hill/Reuters

Clinton jabs Sanders on “establishment” comment

CONCORD, N.H. — A defiant Hillary Clinton took only a veiled jab at presidential primary opponent Bernie Sanders for his recent comments calling progressive groups backing Clinton “part of the establishment.”

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“We need someone in the White House who understands that NARAL and Planned Parenthood aren’t part of the establishment,” she said at the dinner, hosted by NARAL Pro-Choice America and organized to commemorate the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

Clinton focused most of her speech on Republicans, their efforts to roll back abortion rights and the damage they could do to those rights if they win the White House this cycle. But she did take another swipe at Sanders on healthcare, saying “the law is working…so let’s work to improve it, but let’s not start all over again.

The comments follow days of criticism from representatives of NARAL, Planned Parenthood and other progressive groups that have endorsed Clinton that Sanders lumped in as part of the Democratic Party “establishment” in an interview withMSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Tuesday night.

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Clinton herself questioned Sanders’ comments this week, saying on CNN on Thursday “I don’t understand what he means by that.” The same day, Sanders walked the comments back in an interview with MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt, saying that he didn’t mean the groups were part of the establishment.

“No. They aren’t. They’re standing up and fighting the important fights that have to be fought,” he said.

On Friday night, however, New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who has endorsed Clinton, used Sanders’ comments to energize the crowd for her candidate.

“When he points to the people in this room and he declares that you are what’s wrong with America, and part of the establishment that he’s up against, he is just dead wrong,” she said.

She also told the crowd that Clinton was facing a “dogfight” in New Hampshire, where polls show Sanders widening his lead over her in the final few weeks before the primary. Clinton took the stage and echoed Shaheen, affirming “we are in a dogfight,” but closed with an expression of confidence in her chances.

“I know what it’s like to run from behind in New Hampshire - and I know what it’s like to come from behind and win in New Hampshire,” she said, to a standing ovation.

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Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton

Clinton jabs Sanders on "establishment" comment