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Sen. Bernie Sanders is ramping up his attacks on Democratic presidential primary rival Hillary Clinton in the days before the final primary contests.
In a Sunday interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” host Jake Tapper asked Sanders whether it was ethical for the Clinton Foundation – an organization run by the Clintons and established to improve global health – to accept donations from governments that “don’t represent” US values.
Sanders has mostly ignored the issue on the campaign trail. But on Sunday, he pounced.
“Do I have a problem when a sitting secretary of state and a foundation run by her husband collects many millions of dollars from foreign governments, governments which are dictatorships?” Sanders said. “You don’t have a lot of civil liberties or democratic rights in Saudi Arabia. You don’t have a lot of respect there for opposition points of view, for gay rights, for women’s rights.”
“Do I have a problem with that?” Sanders asked again. “Yes, I do.”
Sanders also attempted to equate Clinton and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s judgment on foreign-policy issues. It came days after Clinton delivered a vociferous speech attacking Trump’s views on national security, in what many observers say will be one of her strongest arguments against Trump.
Sanders reiterated that Clinton voted for the 2003 invasion of Iraq while Sanders opposed the war.
“Secretary Clinton’s temperament is not Donald Trump’s. That’s for sure,” Sanders said.
“But she and I – back in 2003, I was in the House she was in the Senate,” he continued. “We all heard the evidence, the so-called evidence coming from Bush and Cheney about the need to go to war in Iraq. I studied that. I really did. I not only voted against the war in Iraq – I led the opposition to that war. She studied the same information. She supported that war.”
For her part, Clinton has largely refrained from publicly criticizing Sanders after large victories in primary states like New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, instead turning her focus to her likely general-election opponent in Trump.
In an interview with Tapper that also aired on Sunday, Clinton brushed off concerns that the Democratic primary was too contentious and pledged to attempt to unite the party against Trump.
“It’s nothing like what we saw on the Republican side,” Clinton said.
“And so after Tuesday, I’m going to do everything I can to reach out to try to unify the Democratic Party, and I expect Sen. Sanders to do the same. And we will come together and be prepared to go to the convention in a unified way to make our case, to leave the convention, to go into the general election to defeat Donald Trump.”
Sanders’ rhetorical jabs come as the senator’s path to capturing the majority of pledged delegates in the remaining primary contests appears virtually impossible.
According to The New York Times delegate tracker, there are still 918 pledged delegates up for grabs. Following its primary on June 7, California will award 546 of the remaining delegates.
Most recent polls show the two Democratic candidates in a tight race in the Golden State, making it all but impossible for Sanders to close the pledged-delegate gap between himself and Clinton even if he pulls off a win in California.
As FiveThirtyEight has noted, strong showings in New Jersey and Puerto Rico could help the former secretary of state reach the combined number of pledged delegates and superdelegates needed to clinch the nomination before the polls close in California.