PHILADELPHIA – Bernie Sanders said he plans to return to the Senate as an independent, despite winning 13 million votes in the Democratic Party’s presidential primary contest.
“I was elected as an independent; I’ll stay two years more as an independent,” Mr. Sanders said.
Speaking at the Bloomberg Politics breakfast on Tuesday, Mr. Sanders also said the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee doesn’t go far enough in fixing the situation and that more staff members need to leave following embarrassing disclosures of thousands of internal emails.
“We need a DNC which has as very different direction,” he said. “I honestly don’t know many of the people there. But my guess is we’re going to need new leadership, a new direction and new personnel.”
Asked after the event whether Mr. Sanders considers himself a Democrat or an independent, a campaign aide said, “He ran for president as a Democrat but was elected to a six-year term in the Senate as an independent.”
Mr. Sanders’s appearance followed his prime-time speech Monday in which he urged his supporters to back Mrs. Clinton. As for his own future in the party, he said he would remain an independent as he serves out his senate term. Vermont has no party registration. But when Mr. Sanders entered the presidential race last year he proclaimed himself a Democrat.
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The emails, released by Wikileaks, showed DNC aides plotting ways to undermine Mr. Sanders’s campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. In some measure they confirm a charge that the Sanders campaign made from the beginning of the primary fight: that Ms. Wasserman Schultz and her staff wanted Hillary Clinton to prevail.
On the eve of the four-day convention devoted to Mrs. Clinton’s nomination, Ms. Wasserman Schultz announced she was stepping down as chairwoman. She has played no public role in the convention proceedings.
Mr. Sanders cast the DNC as an inept operation that has failed to inspire people to vote, resulting in large Democratic losses in years when the president is not on the ballot.
He said the DNC needs new “leadership and a new chair that would lead the process of transforming the Democratic Party.”
Donna Brazile, a longtime Democratic official, has stepped in as interim chairwoman. On Monday she issued an apology for the emails. She has also made an overture to Mr. Sanders, inviting his campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, to lend help to the committee in “voter participation” and “civic engagement.”
“I’ll help Donna Brazile any way he can,” Mr. Weaver said in an interview.
Source: Wall Street Journal
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