PHILADELPHIA (CNN) — Hillary Clinton questioned Bernie Sanders’ fidelity to the Democratic Party in an interview published on Wednesday, a step further than she usually goes when talking about Sanders and the party.
“He’s a relatively new Democrat, and, in fact, I’m not even sure he is one,” Clinton said during an interview with Politico’s Glenn Thrush that taped on Friday in Syracuse. “He’s running as one. So I don’t know quite how to characterize him. I’ll leave that to him.”
Throughout this presidential campaign, Clinton has routinely touted her ties to the Democratic Party, a jab at Sanders, a politician who has caucused with Democrats since 1991 but has never been a member of the party.
“I am also a Democrat and have been a proud Democrat all my adult life,” Clinton said Sunday in Wisconsin. “And I think that is kind of important if we are selecting someone to be the Democratic nominee of the Democratic Party.”
On the same day, at a Democratic dinner in Milwaukee, Clinton said, “I am a proud Democrat and I support Democrats up and down the ticket. Always have and always will.”
Clinton grew up in a Republican household and was briefly a Republican when she went to Wellesley College in 1965. Shortly after arriving on campus, however, Clinton grew more liberal and has been a member of the Democratic Party since her graduation in 1969.
Sanders, however, has never been a member of the Democratic Party and is one of two independents in the United States Senate.
Sanders unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 1971 as a member of Liberty Union party and, in 1981, when he successfully ran for mayor of Burlington, Vermont, he did so as an independent. At times, the senator has identified a democratic socialist.
Sanders, however, listed the Democratic Party as his party affiliation in his statement of candidacy for his presidential run. He also declared as a Democrat during the New Hampshire primary.