Bill Clinton launched a sustained attack on Bernie Sanders at a New Hampshire campaign rally Sunday, tearing into the senator’s rhetoric against Hillary Clinton and picking apart his spending plans.
The former president appeared angry as he poured scorn on his wife’s opponent, portraying the Sanders campaign as dishonest and his healthcare proposals as unrealistic.
Bill Clinton said Sanders’ message was “hermetically-sealed” from reality and ridiculed its implication that "anybody that doesn't agree... is a tool of the establishment.’”
The remarks late Sunday in New Hampshire marked a significant escalation in the language Bill Clinton has used on the campaign trail and came as polls suggest Sanders could be headed for a clear victory in the state's upcoming primary.
Bill Clinton appeared visibly frustrated at criticism over his wife's ties to Wall Street as he spoke to a crowd of about 300 at a middle school in Milford, New Hampshire.
“She’s getting it from the right, she’s getting it from the left,” he said. “If she were really so weak on Wall Street, would there really be two hedge fund managers setting up two super PACs and spending millions of dollars to attack her? No, they’d be attacking her opponent.
“But they’re not, they’re attacking her. Because they know that she’s got a stronger plan and they know that when she says she’s going to do something, she’s going to do it,” Bill Clinton told the crowd.
He also called Sanders’ healthcare plan unnecessary, saying that even progressive experts agree the costs “don’t add up.”
“You can’t offer a healthcare program [if] you don’t know what it costs,” Bill Clinton said. “And we don’t need to do it … just implement the law we’ve got, fix the payment systems and get the drug prices down.”
The former president also hit out at the Sanders campaign for “looting information from our computers” — likening the episode to stealing a car with the keys in the ignition — and sent a message to young voters, who polls have suggested currently favor Sanders over Hillary Clinton by as much as two to one.
“Free college for everyone sounds better than what I said … [but] we can’t afford everything,” Bill Clinton told the audience.
He set out his wife's record of achievements, contrasting them with the rhetoric of the Sanders campaign.
“It makes you feel good to condemn but it makes more difference if you make something happen,” he said.
In closing, Bill Clinton echoed a refrain his wife has been using while campaigning.
“All that matters is whether people are better off when you quit than when you started,” he said. “We’re going to turn anger into answers, transform resentment into empowerment.”