PURCHASE, N.Y. – Hillary Clinton, minutes after being interrupted by Bernie Sanders supporters here Thursday, slammed the Vermont senator for his response to Donald Trump’s comments on abortion.
While calling Trump out for “outrageous” statements on women facing punishments for abortion – which the Republican front-runner has since walked back – Clinton notably took the opportunity to hit Sanders for suggesting Wednesday in an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that the country should instead have “a serious discussion about the serious issues facing America.”
Though she acknowledged Sanders first called Trump’s comments “shameful,” Clinton argued that women’s reproductive groups like Planned Parenthood Action Fund and the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Law endorsed her instead because she’s “led on this issue.”
“We need a president who is passionate about this, seeing it as a top priority because women's health is under assault,” she said.
The former secretary of state charged Sanders with calling the frenzy around Trump’s comments a “distraction,” though Sanders never used that word exactly in his interview with Maddow on Wednesday and also made a larger point about the media’s role in covering the bombastic billionaire.
Clinton similarly knocked Sanders for this in a follow-up interview with Maddow on Wednesday. “To think that this is an issue that is not deserving of reaction just demonstrates a lack of appreciation for how serious this is. This goes to the heart of who we are as women, what kind of rights and choices we have, it certainly is as important as any economic issue,” she said.
A Sanders campaign spokesman did not respond to Clinton’s comments directly, but said “Sen. Sanders has a 100 percent lifetime voting record defending a woman's right to choose and will do all that he can to protect and expand that right if elected president.”
On Wednesday, campaigning in the state where she served as a senator for eight years, Clinton grew impassioned after being interrupted by a group of protesters.
During a riff about not being “oblivious to the pain and frustration” bubbling nationwide, a group of students started chanting: “She wins, we lose!”
A visibly angry Clinton responded to the activists, whom she identified as Sanders supporters. Clinton typically ignores or dismisses protests during her events, but wasted no time in commenting at Thursday’s rally.
“Oh, I know, the Bernie people came to say that, we're very sorry you're leaving,” she said.
As they walked out, Clinton fired off statistics about how many votes she’s earned, boasting that she has one million more than Donald Trump and 2.5 million more than Sanders.
She dedicated the rest of her speech to drawing contrasts with Sanders, who she has mostly been sidelining in favor of hitting Republicans on national security and foreign policy. Clinton attacked him on everything from college affordability and healthcare to the economy and climate change.
In some of the strongest language she’s used on her rival yet, Clinton said, “I’m telling you, people. We actually have to do something, not just complain!”