Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is facing criticism after referring to Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) as part of the political “establishment” that his campaign is taking on.
Speaking on MSNBC Tuesday night, the presidential candidate responded to a question from host Rachel Maddow about whether he was trying to gain endorsements from these groups but losing them to rival presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, or if he was “not trying to get them” by dismissing the organizations that opted to endorse Clinton for the Democratic nomination.
“I would love to have the endorsement of every progressive organization in America,” Sanders replied. “We’re very proud to have received recently the endorsement of MoveOn.org. We’ve received the endorsement Democracy for America. These are grassroots organizations representing millions of workers.”
“What we are doing in this campaign, it just blows my mind every day because I see it clearly, we’re taking on not only Wall Street and economic establishment, we’re taking on the political establishment,” he continued. “So, I have friends and supporters in the Human Rights Fund [sic] and Planned Parenthood. But, you know what? Hillary Clinton has been around there for a very, very long time. Some of these groups are, in fact, part of the establishment.”
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Planned Parenthood’s political arm, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, has $20 million on hand to spend in the 2016 presidential and congressional races. HRC’s PAC spent $159,415 on federal elections in 2008 and $91,149 in 2012.
“Really Senator Sanders?” Clinton asked, going on to question how the candidate could say the groups “are part of ‘the establishment’” he pledged to take on in his bid for the presidency.
Planned Parenthood expressed its frustration with Sanders’ statement on Twitter, writing that while the organization respects the senator, it is “Disappointed to be called ‘establishment’ as we fight like hell to protect women’s health.”
The Human Rights Campaign added that it too shared in Planned Parenthood’s “disappointment in Sanders’ attacks.”
When campaign spokesperson Michael Briggs was asked to clarify Sanders’ comments on the Rachel Maddow Show, Briggs declined, noting that Sanders had already “said it better than I could,” according to MSNBC.