Politics

Meeks (D) Hits Sanders for Not Being a Democrat: ‘I Want a Democrat to Be My Representative as President’

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D., N.Y.) on Thursday slammed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, for not being a Democrat, insisting he wants a party member to be his representative as president of the United States.

Meeks appeared on CNN's "Newsroom" with co-host Poppy Harlow, where he was asked what he thought about Sanders and the fact that he raised about $6 million in the first 24 hours after he announced that he was running for president. She began by reading a Politico Magazine op-ed by National Review editor Rich Lowry about how Sanders is "burdened by his utter lack of intersectionality."

"Do you agree, and if so, is that also true for Vice President Joe Biden, if he jumps in?" Harlow asked.

"The difference for me is Bernie Sanders is not a Democrat, so I don't understand why Bernie Sanders, who does not want to become a member of the Democratic Party—" Meeks said before Harlow cut him off to note that Sanders said he would run and then preside as a Democrat.

"Run as a Democrat. We have asked him on a continuous basis, ‘if, in fact, you want to be the Democratic nominee, you should be a Democrat. If you're not a Democrat, you should not run. You should run as an independent,'" Meeks said. "He's not a Democrat, so to me, I wouldn't allow a Republican to run as a Democrat or for the Democratic nominee."

Harlow followed up by asking Meeks whether he believed Sanders shouldn't run in the Democratic party, prompting him to say that Sanders should be a Democrat. He went on to say that Sanders should register in the Democratic Party, saying they could then talk about the senator being his representative in the White House.

Sanders's senior campaign adviser told CNN on Wednesday that the senator would sign an "affirmation" in the next week pledging to run as a Democrat in 2020 and to serve as one if elected to be the next president.

Sanders, who has declined the Democratic nomination for all three of his U.S. Senate campaigns, has identified as an independent, but caucuses with the Democrats. His lack of commitment to the party has led to criticism from members, CNN reported.

Despite the criticism from some in the party, Sanders entered the 2020 race with stronger Democratic support than he had four years ago. The rest of his state's congressional delegation — Democrats Sen. Pat Leahy and Rep. Pete Welch — have endorsed him. In 2016, Leahy backed Hillary Clinton and Welch withheld his support for Sanders until just before the Vermont primary.

In 2016, he declared as a Democrat in New Hampshire to participate in the presidential primary there, as required by the state's rules. The move was challenged by a local Republican, but Sanders was ultimately permitted to run by the state's ballot commission since Vermont does not have party registration. New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley defended Sanders' placement on the party's ballot.