Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.), chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, chastised Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) on Monday for his criticism of the DNC’s primary rules, saying the Democratic presidential candidate is wrong and hypocritical for lambasting the process he is using to try and become the party nominee.
Appearing on Bloomberg’s With All Due Respect, Wasserman Schultz responded to Sanders calling the Democratic Party’s process a rigged system when co-host Jon Heilemann asked the DNC chair why Sanders is wrong.
"Bernie Sanders is wrong because we have had these rules in place since 1984," Wasserman Schultz said. "We have two types of delegates: we have the delegates that are pledged, that … represent voters based on the outcome, and then we have party leaders and other elected officials who have been in the trenches for a long time who have a role, appropriately so, in choosing our party’s nominee."
The DNC chair added that the latter group of unpledged delegates, or so-called superdelegates, have never played a role in selecting the Democratic presidential nominee.
Sanders has criticized the role of superdelegates in the nomination process, arguing they have disproportionate influence in the system and are more important than the popular vote. He said at a campaign rally Monday in Indiana that this setup benefits "establishment" candidates and prevents insurgent ones from being successful.
Sanders supporters have cited the New Hampshire primary in February as an example when superdelegates undercut the Vermont Senator’s bid for the nomination. In New Hampshire, Sanders trounced Clinton by 22 points, but both candidates left the state with the same number of delegates because of Clinton’s widespread support from superdelegates.
Heilemann repeated his question to Wasserman Schultz, asking if Sanders’ argument is wrong on substance.
"Of course," the DNC chair replied. "Because it’s never occurred that our party’s nominee has been selected by superdelegates."
"By the way, can I also just point out that there is some irony in [Sanders] criticizing a process that now he says he wants to use to become the party’s nominee," Wasserman Schultz added. "Just saying."
Guest co-host Nicolle Wallace then noted that Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has taken some of Sanders’ attacks against presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to use for himself, before asking, "If [Clinton] loses, say, by just a smidge to Trump [in a general election], is it fair to look back and say if Sanders hadn’t done damage to her by questioning her ethics, questioning her honesty, and questioning her qualifications all spring, it might have turned out different?"
Wasserman Schultz answered no because Clinton has received more votes than any other candidate from either party.
When Wallace pressed the issue and directly asked whether Sanders would be at fault to any degree if Clinton lost a general election to Trump, the DNC chair did not say no, however, arguing instead that Trump would not beat Clinton.
Sanders and the DNC have had a rocky relationship throughout the nomination process, which Wasserman Schultz has described as a "relatively good working relationship."
Sanders’ campaign opened a lawsuit against the Democratic Party during the primary, which stemmed from a dispute back in December when the DNC temporarily shut off his campaign’s access to shared voter data.
The Sanders campaign dropped the lawsuit last week.
Many people have accused the DNC of rigging the primary in favor of Clinton by scheduling fewer debates at times inconvenient for viewers to watch and similar actions to protect Clinton.
Wasserman Schultz has denied any favoritism and has said she is happy to have both Sanders and Clinton in the race.