Tad Devine, senior strategist and media adviser to Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, refused to call Sanders a liberal on Thursday, instead describing the self-declared socialist as a progressive.
Devine’s comments come one day after Brian Fallon, the national press secretary for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, would not call Clinton a liberal, also opting for the term “progressive.”
Appearing on CNN, Devine was asked if Sanders is the most liberal candidate in the presidential race.
“Senator Sanders likes to point out that he is the most progressive candidate, points that out a lot frankly in this campaign. Is he the most liberal?“ co-host John Berman asked.
“Well, you know, it’s funny, somebody asked me that question earlier,” Devine said. “I’ve never heard Bernie describe himself as a liberal.”
“Would you?” Berman asked again.
“No, I would describe him as someone who is very progressive in terms of his political philosophy,” Devine said in response. “He gave a speech at Georgetown and described his political philosophy of being a democratic socialist, okay. He’s been very open and honest about his views.”
Berman pushed Devine on the question, asking, “So why not just say, ‘I’m the most liberal?’”
“Listen, he just doesn’t feel that word applies to him,” Devine responded, appearing a bit flustered. “He’s not running away from the progressive philosophy.”
Devine then described how Sanders wants to “finish the unfinished agenda of Franklin Roosevelt … what President Roosevelt laid out in the final speech before he died before Congress.” Devine detailed how the U.S. must make healthcare a right for all Americans; help workers by providing them a higher wage and give them more vacation time; and provide free, universal college education.
Bernie Sanders has criticized Hillary Clinton throughout the campaign for not being a true progressive. He cites how the former secretary of state has embraced being called a moderate in the recent past and argues she only switched to calling herself a progressive when it was politically convenient for her.
Sanders also said he believes Clinton has changed her positions on a range of issues, originally taking non-progressive stances and subsequently moving to the left just to win the Democratic Party’s nomination.
Clinton asserts she has been fighting for progressive causes her whole life but is practical and can achieve progressive policy goals more effectively than Sanders can, who she has tried to portray as an unelectable candidate due to his ideological rigidity.
Sanders has especially targeted Clinton’s ties to Wall Street and the financial industry, highlighting the millions of dollars in speaking fees she has accumulated recently from the financial industry.
“Most progressives that I know really do not raise millions of dollars from Wall Street,” Sanders recently told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.