Sen. Claire McCaskill, a backer of Hillary Clinton, showed the first signs of frustration among Clinton supporters with her critique of Sen. Bernie Sanders Thursday morning.
In an appearance on “Morning Joe,” McCaskill likened Sanders to other “extreme” candidates of past cycles, adding that she believes the media is giving the “socialist” presidential candidate too much latitude.
“I think the media is giving Bernie a pass right now. I very rarely read in any coverage of Bernie that he’s a socialist,” McCaskill told hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. “I think everybody wants a fight and I think they are not really giving the same scrutiny to Bernie Sanders that they’re giving, certainly, to Hillary Clinton and the other candidates.”
“She’s going to win this and as soon as I think they begin treating him like a serious candidate instead of ‘oh, my gosh, it’s so great, we’ve got a fight in the Democratic Party.’ I think it will become very clear,” McCaskill said. “Any other candidate that has the numbers that Hillary Clinton had right now would be, you know, talked about as absolutely untouchable, and all of a sudden, ‘oh, Bernie, Bernie, Bernie.’ I think Bernie is too liberal to gather enough votes in this country to become president, and I think Hillary Clinton will be a fantastic president.”
Brzezinski went on to ask McCaskill for her thoughts on the large crowds Sanders has been raking in recently in early primary states. The senator lumped Sanders in the same category as past presidential candidates Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan, adding that it’s “not unusual for someone” with an “extreme message to have a following.”
“You know, Rand Paul’s father got massive crowds, Ron Paul. He got the same size crowds. Pat Buchanan got massive crowds,” McCaskill said. “It’s not unusual for someone who has an extreme message to have a following, and massive is relative. I think Hillary had a massive crowd at her announcement. Certainly as large as any crowd that Bernie Sanders has had.”
“So you think Bernie Sanders has an extreme message?” Scarborough pressed.
“I think Bernie Sanders has a message that’s touching people’s frustration and I totally get that,” McCaskill said backtracking.” But so does Hillary Clinton, and she’s got years of experience working in the very same arena, working on behalf of income inequality and middle class values, middle class families, opportunity for college, opportunity for preschool.”
“This is somebody that can carry the torch of middle class opportunity without alienating a wide swath of voters by being, frankly, a socialist,” she told Scarborough.
Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin took his turn going after the Missouri senator, asking her to name three positions that are “too socialist.”
“I am not here to be critical of my colleague Bernie Sanders,” McCaskill said after she criticized the Vermont senator moments before, which Halperin pointed out.
“Senator, with all due respect, you already were,” Halperin said. “You said he was socialist and unelectable.”
“I do believe that,” McCaskill told Halperin, who asked her (once again) to name three positions where Sanders sits to the left of Clinton.
McCaskill pointed to Sanders’ desire for all Americans to be on Medicare, to expand entitlements, and his stance on trade.
“He’s against a whole lot of things that are unrealistic in this day and age,” McCaskill said.