After a week of headlines underscoring the two leading Democratic candidates’ vulnerabilities – particularly the revelation that some of the emails on Hillary Clinton’s private server contained information now deemed “top secret” – Clinton and Bernie Sanders were pressed on the Sunday show circuit about electability concerns.
An article in Politico published Friday asserted that Sanders might have “an electability problem” and that the word “socialist” could be “a one-word silver bullet against Sanders.” The article cited a Pew Research Center poll from late 2011 that found that 60 percent of Americans had an “unfavorable opinion of socialism.” On ABC’s “This Week,” host George Stephanopoulos asked Clinton if Sanders’ affiliation as a democratic socialist would adversely affect the Democratic Party’s electoral prospects from the top down.
“That certainly is what a lot of Democratic leaders are saying. And I take them at their word. They know their states, they know the country, they know we have to take back the Senate,” Clinton said. “They want to make some advances in the House as well as at governor and legislature levels across the country … And if there are issues that Republicans and their allies on the right believe they can use to bring down a Democrat, they’re going to use it.”
Stephanopoulos later interviewed Sanders, who discussed how the controversy surrounding Clinton’s emails has played out in conservative circles. The Vermont senator insisted that while he would not politicize the issue, Clinton’s detractors would not adopt the same attitude. The recent news that some of the emails were now too classified to be made public “lent credence to criticism by Mrs. Clinton’s rivals in the presidential race of her handling of classified information while she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013,” according to The New York Times.
Indeed, Republican candidates devoted considerable time during last Thursday’s debate to the emails, with Republican candidate Marco Rubio going so far as to say that the recent revelation is a “disqualifier,” despite the fact that the emails were not marked classified at the time they were sent. But even in their endorsement of Clinton, the Times’ editorial board noted that campaign attacks over Clinton’s private server “are legitimate and deserve forthright answers.” Sanders, for his part, has preferred to attack Clinton over her ties to Wall Street.
“Republicans are talking about [her emails]. What I have said is that there is a legal process underway right now … I am not attacking Hillary Clinton on that issue. I stand by what I said in the first debate. Republicans, needless to say, have a different point of view on that.”
According to the last Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll, Hillary Clinton is holding a 3-point lead over Bernie Sanders in Iowa, which will hold the first-in-the-nation caucus on Monday.