Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez backpedaled late Wednesday after telling a group of Kansas lawmakers earlier in the day that last year’s Democratic primaries were rigged in favor of Hillary Clinton.
Perez made the comments in a meeting with about 20 Kansas lawmakers in which he was making his case to take over as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
“We heard loudly and clearly yesterday from Bernie supporters that the process was rigged and it was. And you’ve got to be honest about it. That’s why we need a chair who is transparent,” Perez told the group, according to NBC News.
Later on, Perez claimed on Twitter that he “misspoke” about the deck being stacked against Sanders.
Perez supported Clinton during the presidential campaign and was said to be on her short list for vice president. But he’s running for DNC chair against Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, a strong Sanders ally.
Sanders and his allies complained during the primaries that then-DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz had stacked the deck against the Vermont senator. Schultz was criticized for refusing to alter the party’s debate schedule or its superdelegate system.
Perez said Wednesday that debates should be scheduled well in advance of the primary campaign “so there’s no question whatsoever.”
Perez went on to say that the Democratic Party is currently suffering from “a crisis of confidence and crisis of relevance.”
“We’ve lost touch with a lot of voters,” he continued. “We ignored people. And it’s not just that people felt ignored, it’s that people felt affirmatively disrespected and looked down on.”