Lawmakers press Sanders during a tense question-and-answer session on whether he would ultimately endorse Clinton and help foster party unity.Sen. Bernie Sanders is still talking like a guy who’s running for president. But frustrated House Democrats — who booed him at one point during a morning meeting — say it’s time to stop.With the Democratic convention just weeks away, Sanders still hasn’t endorsed one-time rival Hillary Clinton and dodged questions about when he would during a tense meeting Wednesday morning with House Democrats.
Sanders also stunned some of the Democrats in attendance when he told them that winning elections wasn’t the only thing they should focus on. While they wanted to hear about how to beat Donald Trump — and how Sanders might help them win the House back — he was talking about remaking the country.
“The goal isn’t to win elections, the goal is to transform America,” Sanders said at one point, according to multiple lawmakers and aides in the room.
Some Democrats booed Sanders for that line, which plays better on the campaign trail than in front of a roomful of elected officials.
House Democrats overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton during the presidential primary fight, so it was not surprising that Sanders got a cool reception from them.
But frustration with Sanders was also evident. Rank-and-file House Democrats want Sanders to officially drop out of the race and throw his support behind the presumptive nominee, and they can’t understand why he hasn’t so far.
“It was frustrating because he’s squandering the movement he built with a self-obsession that was totally on display,” said a senior Democrat, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
After delivering his opening remarks — which touched on Sanders’ favorite issues including campaign finance, Wall Street reform and trade — lawmakers inside the meeting pressed Sanders during a tense question-and-answer session on whether he would ultimately endorse Clinton and help foster party unity.
Sanders complained about the “super delegate” process used during the primaries. “One person is starting with 900 delegates before anyone even votes,” Sanders said. The Vermont socialist and his supporters have been upset about the issue for months.
But House Democrats didn’t seem very impressed with the unapologetic Sanders, who didn’t yield an inch despite the rough handling he received.
For his part, Sanders told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that “we look at the world a little bit differently,” when asked about the booing later on Wednesday.
“What I’m trying to do and the reason I ran for president is to help transform this country. To deal with income and wealth, inequality a declining middle class, the fact that so many of the young people leaving school deeply in debt,” Sanders added, though he remained noncommittal about endorsing Clinton. said, before expressing approval of Clinton’s policy announcement Wednesday combining his higher-education proposals with hers.
But during their earlier meeting, House Democrats including John Garamendi of California and Joyce Beatty of Ohio asked Sanders for specifics on when he would get behind Clinton — questions that were accompanied by some cheers and clapping from other House Democrats, sources inside the room said.
“When are you going to run as a Democrat? This is the Democratic Caucus,” Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) said to applause.
Sanders didn’t give them a clear answer, according to attendees. Instead, Sanders declared that elections are not necessarily about winning, but about transformations.
The senator also talked about his outstanding issues with the party’s platform, particularly when it comes to trade.
“To say, as he did, that the goal is not to win elections but for people to embrace his ideas is disconnected from what we are trying to do here. He had a chance to talk about getting things done and instead talked about prolonging his process,” the Democratic source added.
Sanders did have some support among House Democrats.
“A lot of members are anxious about when is he going to explicitly support Hillary,” said Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.). “And what he’s saying is that’s an ongoing process. But if we want to win, we’ve got to take the long-view that we need a platform that is going to genuinely create excitement for our nominee.”
Welch added: “What he said very clearly is we’ve got to beat Trump and the way he believes we’re going to do it is by having a commitment to an agenda that excites people, including the younger people. And he’s working on that.”
For his part, Sanders said he had a basic message for House Democrats.
“My message was a simple message: We have got to fight for the needs of the middle class and working families of this country,” Sanders said as he left the caucus meeting. “We got to get people involved in the political process, we got to get a large voter turnout, and if we have a larger voter turnout, Democrats will regain control of the Senate and I believe they’re gonna take the House back.”
Sanders also weighed in at a press conference on the FBI’s decision not to recommend charges against Clinton for sending classified information over her private servers as secretary of State.
“I think you’ve heard me say from day one that there is a process in terms of the investigation regarding Secretary Clinton and the emails,” Sanders said. “Yesterday was an important part of that process. Now we wait to hear from the Justice Department.”
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