As the race for the Democratic nomination has progressed, there’s been a fair amount of commentary about the similarities between Hillary Clinton’s and Bernie Sanders’ platforms. They bring very different backgrounds to the table, but when it comes to many of their top policy priorities, the presidential contenders tend to have similar goals, even if they disagree on precisely how to reach those goals.
But Clinton and Sanders sat down with Rachel yesterday – I sure hope you saw last night’s interviews – and a surprising number of contrasts emerged between the two.
For example, Clinton, who has helped Democratic campaign committees and state parties raise money for the 2016 elections, twice emphasized how important she believes it is to help congressional Democrats. Sanders, an independent, is taking a wait-and-see approach.
MADDOW: I have to ask, though, if you have thought about whether or not you will, at some point, turn your fundraising ability toward helping the Democratic Party more broadly, to helping their campaign committees for the House and the Senate and for other – for other elections?SANDERS: Well, right now, Rachel, as you are more than aware, our job is to – what I’m trying to do is to win the Democratic nomination. […]MADDOW: Well, obviously your priority is the nomination, but I mean you raised Secretary Clinton there. She has been fundraising both for the nomination and for the Democratic Party. At some point, do you think – do you foresee a time during this campaign when you’ll start doing that?SANDERS: Well, we’ll see. And, I mean right now, again, our focus is on winning the nomination.
This is a pretty important difference, which I suspect some party officials – i.e., superdelegates – noticed.
It wasn’t the only difference, though.
Rachel also noted, for example, that the Republican Party may be facing an internal crisis of sorts, especially with so many in the GOP opposing the party’s likely nominee. She asked Clinton, “[D]o you basically look at the Republican party in this kind of crisis and say, you know, ‘Good riddance. That party needs to be blown up. I hope they come back as something better,’ or do you worry about that?”
Clinton responded that she favors “two strong parties.” Faced with the same question, Sanders said, “Well, I’m not going to give the Republican leadership, you know, really any ideas on how they can reorganize their party. All I can tell you is that it is absolutely imperative for the future of this country and for future generations that we do not have a Republican in the White House, whether it is Trump or Cruz or anybody else.”
On the Supreme Court, Sanders would vote for Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination, but nevertheless sees him as too conservative. On the other hand, Clinton argued, in reference to the court, “I don’t want any daylight between me and President Obama.”
On Democratic superdelegates in the nominating process, Rachel asked if Clinton would forswear the idea of party insiders elevating a candidate who’s trailing in pledged delegates and popular votes. “I don’t understand the argument,” Clinton responded. “If I have more popular votes and more delegates, then I think it’s pretty clear that the people who turned out and voted, chose me to be the nominee.”
Sanders, however, continues to suggest he’ll push party insiders to give him a boost, even if his campaign comes up short in pledged delegates after the primaries and caucuses. From the transcript:
SANDERS: Well, look, I don’t want to get into – too deeply into process here. First of all, we hope to be ahead in the delegate count. That’s the important thing. But what I do believe is that there are a lot of Republican – a lot of super delegates who have signed onto Hillary Clinton a long, long time ago, and then you have other superdelegates who are in states where we have won by 20, 30, 40 points. And the people in those states are saying, “You know what, we voted for Bernie Sanders by 30 or 40 points, you’ve got to support him at the convention.” So we’ll see what happens down the line.
Asked if his campaign is already working on “lobbying” these Democratic superdelegates, the senator replied, “Yes, we are. We are.”
If campaigns are all about identifying areas of contrast, last night brought some of the differences between Clinton and Sanders into sharper focus.