Sen. Bernie Sanders criticized the head of a liberal think tank on Monday, prompting the latest exchange in a scathing back-and-forth between the progressive presidential contender and a group with ties to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic establishment.
The Vermont legislator criticized the think tank for playing what he called a “destructive role” in the “vital mission to defeat Donald Trump” in a letter to the board of the Center for American Progress and CAP Action Fund on Saturday, according to The New York Times. Sanders cited a piece and video critical of the senator for amassing a personal fortune that appeared on the website of ThinkProgress, a news outlet founded by CAP.
The video criticizing Sanders was deemed “overly harsh” by Neera Tanden, president and chief executive officer of CAP, who also pointed out that ThinkProgress is editorially independent of CAP and CAP Action.
The content of the ThinkProgress video criticizing Sen. Sanders, according to Tanden, is “overly harsh” and “does not reflect our approach to a healthy debate of the issues.”
As 18 candidates compete for the chance to challenge Trump in the 2020 presidential election, the conflict symbolizes a larger division inside the Democratic Party. More centrist Democrats are concerned that the liberal tilt would hurt their chances as several progressive candidates threaten to drive the party farther to the left, led by Sanders, who is now polling as the front-runner among the candidates.
Sanders noted in the letter that “this pointless negative campaigning needs to stop.” “The Democratic primary must be an intellectual battle, not a smear campaign. Please contribute in a positive way to the campaign to remove Donald Trump from office.
ThinkProgress criticized the senator for not yet releasing his tax returns and called his millionaire status, acquired in recent years from book royalties, “off-brand and embarrassing.” Sanders accused CAP of publishing content that “dishonestly attacked me for hypocrisy in my efforts to address income inequality in America.”
Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have been the targets of pieces on ThinkProgress that Sanders claimed mocked progressive values.
Sanders supporters have blamed Tanden for aiding in the repression of progressive activists who claim that the Democratic Party’s leadership engineered the nomination process and is loyal to corporate contributors. Tanden served as a key adviser to Clinton during her 2016 presidential campaign.
John Podesta, who oversaw Clinton’s 2016 campaign and worked as her husband Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, created CAP in 2003.
After Trump’s election in 2016, prominent Democrats reached out to Sanders supporters, but the senator’s letter shows how easily those flimsy efforts to forge party unity may be thwarted.
The above-mentioned worries I have about the role CAP is playing will be shared with my grassroots supporters, Sanders stated. “I would be pleased to reevaluate what type of collaboration we can have if your actions change over the next several months.”
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