Politics

Amy Klobuchar and Joe Biden refute Hillary Clinton’s claim that ‘nobody likes’ Bernie Sanders

"I hope that Secretary Clinton and all of us can come together," Sanders said.

Seven Democratic candidates for president debated Friday night at St. Anselm College. John Tlumacki / The Boston Globe

Hillary Clinton recently claimed that “nobody likes” Sen. Bernie Sanders and that her 2016 primary opponent “got nothing done.”

But during the eighth debate of the party’s 2020 primary race Friday night, several of the Vermont senator’s more moderate rivals refuted that notion.

“I like Bernie just fine,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar said, despite her ideological differences with Sanders, who describes himself as a democratic socialist.

The subject came up after the moderators of the ABC News debate at Saint Anselm College in Goffstown, New Hampshire brought up the former U.S. secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee’s remarks to ask whether the 2020 candidates running against Sanders thought he could get Republican support as president.

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The question garnered chuckles from the audience and former vice president Joe Biden — who has also clashed with Sanders over healthcare and his “socialist” identification — and even walked over to put him arm around his former Senate colleague.

Klobuchar went on to note that she worked with Sanders on “a number of things,” including a 2017 budget amendment to allow less expensive prescription drugs to be imported from Canada. Even though a dozen Republicans signed onto the amendment, it ultimately failed due to opposition from 13 Democrats. But the Minnesota senator used it as evidence of where she — and Sanders — could work with Republicans.

“We actually had a vote late at night one time, Klobuchar-Sanders amendment,” she said.

“I thought it was Sanders-Klobuchar,” Sanders joked.

The light-hearted moment turned to what Klobuchar — the only person on stage who indicated she would be concerned about having Sanders leading the Democratic ticket — said was “an example” of the need for Democratic unity headed into the general election against President Donald Trump, even as the candidates clashed over who would be most capable of doing so. Klobuchar then pivoted to her own record of electoral success in Minnesota, including in “red districts.”

“I’ve been listening to this discussion,” she said. “I agree with my colleagues. We must unite. But the way that we unite is by having an optimistic economic agenda for America.”

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Clinton’s comments in an interview last month — promoting an upcoming documentary about herself — reopened wounds from the bitter 2016 campaign, stoking still-heated tensions between the Democratic Party’s more moderate and progressive wings.

“Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done,” the former U.S. secretary of state and Democratic presidential nominee said.

Asked about Clinton’s remarks during the debate Friday night, Sanders noted that got 25 percent of the Republican vote in Vermont and passed more roll call amendments than any other member of Congress during his time in a GOP-controlled House. But he echoed the call for Democratic unity headed into the general election.

“Our job is to look forward, and not back to 2016, and I hope that Secretary Clinton and all of us can come together and move in that direction,” Sanders said.

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