LAS VEGAS — Joe Biden called on Bernie Sanders to accept greater accountability for tactics and rhetoric of his staunchest supporters and do more to discourage it, after what he called the “outrageous” threats on a prominent union that criticized his healthcare plan.
Representatives of the powerful Culinary Workers Union, which represents 60,000 workers supporting Nevada’s gaming and hospitality industries, said this week that supporters of the Vermont senator had “viciously attacked” its members after its leadership warned about the risk to their negotiated health plans under a Medicare for All system.
In an exclusive interview airing Sunday on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” Biden said the Vermont senator “may not be responsible for it, but he has some accountability.”
“You know me well enough to know if any of my supporters did that, I’d disown them. Flat disown them,” Biden said. “The stuff that was said online. The way they threatened these two women who are leaders in that Culinary union. It is outrageous. Just — just go online.”
In a PBS interview Thursday, Sanders called the attacks on Culinary leadership “not acceptable.”
“I don't know who these so-called supporters are,” he said. “We're living in a strange world on the Internet. And sometimes people attack people in somebody else's name. But let me be very clear. Anybody making personal attacks against anybody else in my name is not part of my movement.”
Calling attacks “vicious, malicious, misogynistic,” Biden said it wasn’t enough for Sanders to simply disassociate himself from those making them. He needs to “find out who the hell they are, if any of them work for [him]. Fire them.”
“I’m hoping he’s looking. But I tell you what: so far I don’t think it’s sufficient just to say, ‘I disassociate myself,’” he added.
Biden’s comments came between campaign stops Saturday. After a fourth-place finish in Iowa and fifth place in New Hampshire, the remaining early contests in Nevada and South Carolina have taken on even greater urgency for the former vice president.