U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib has apologized for booing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a campaign event for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders Friday night, an outburst that echoed the divisive nature of the 2016 Democratic primary and showed once again how splintered the party remains just days before the 2020 Iowa caucuses.
“In this instance, I allowed my disappointment with Secretary Clinton’s latest comments about Senator Sanders and his supporters get the best of me,” Tlaib, D-Mich., tweeted Saturday, “You all, my sisters-in-service on stage, and our movement deserve better.”
Tlaib was on stage with U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and fellow “Squad” member Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., in Clive, Iowa, when a moderator brought up Clinton’s recent remarks about Sanders.
“Nobody likes him. Nobody wants to work with him. He got nothing done,” Clinton said of her former foe for the Democratic nomination in her new documentary. “He was a career politician. It’s all just baloney and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it.”
Even as the moderator told the crowd “we’re not going to boo,” Tlaib interrupted with an emphatic “boo” that drew cheers.
“You all know I can’t be quiet. No, we’re going to boo,” Tlaib said. “The haters will shut up on Monday when we win.”
Tlaib looked to do damage control in a string of tweets Saturday.
“I am so incredibly in love with the movement that our campaign of #NotMeUs has created. This makes me protective over it,” she said. “However, I know what is at stake if we don’t unify over one candidate to beat Trump and I intend to do everything possible to ensure that Trump does not win in 2020.”
Sanders also called on his supporters to rally around the party’s eventual nominee, saying in Indianola, “If we do not win, we will support the winner and I know that every other candidate will do the same.”
Even as Sanders and Tlaib sought to de-escalate, campaign manager Faiz Shakir tweeted, “Rashida, you’re all good. We love your passion and conviction. Don’t change.”
The flare-up of lingering tensions from 2016 capped off a day in which several of the 2020 presidential hopefuls blasted the Democratic National Committee for eliminating the donor threshold from its debate qualifications, paving the way for former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire who is self-funding his bid, to make the Nevada stage.
“The DNC didn’t change the rules to ensure good, diverse candidates could remain on the debate stage. They shouldn’t change the rules to let a billionaire on,” tweeted U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
But as Warren and several of her rivals raced around the Hawkeye State on Saturday making their case as the person best suited to unify the Democrats against President Trump, political observers said the obvious discord within the party didn’t bode well.
“This is not the message that the Democrats want voters to see this close to Iowa, New Hampshire and with Super Tuesday a month from now. It’s silly insider slapstick that does not appeal to undecided voters,” said Democratic strategist Tony Cignoli, adding it’s “reminiscent of the 1968 divisions among Democrats that helped Richard Nixon claim the Oval Office.”
“It probably couldn’t have come at a worse time,” said Todd Belt, director of George Washington University’s political management program, adding that the infighting could “generate some bad blood” among Iowa caucusgoers Monday night.
“This is going to weaken and make it more difficult for supporters of one candidate to throw their support behind someone else if they don’t get to the 15%” viability threshold, he said.
Republican strategist Mike Dennehy added, “The disunity among the Democrats is worse than I’ve ever seen. The attacks from every candidate are only exacerbating the issue to a point where it’s so risky that they may not be able to come together after there’s a nominee.”
Herald wire services contributed to this report.
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