Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) blasted "conservative Democrats" who take him out of context while defending remarks he made about former President Barack Obama that some viewed as dismissive of his legacy.
Speaking earlier this month, Sanders said the business model of the Democratic Party had been a "failure," and Democrats had failed to see that because "there was a charismatic individual named Barack Obama, who won the presidency in 2008 and 2012."
He took heat from black Democrats who felt he was dismissing the achievements of the first African-American president. However, MSNBC host Al Sharpton, who interviewed Sanders at the National Action Network conference, said Sanders actually praised Obama with the remarks.
"What really bothers me is—look, I don't have to explain politics to you. You know it as well as anybody," Sanders said. "We have conservative Democrats who will take anything that I say and try to take it out of context. What I said is … if you look at what's happened to the Democratic Party over the last 10 years, the Democratic Party has lost about 1,000 legislative seats."
Sanders said roughly half the country lived in states controlled by "right-wing extremists."
"That is not a business model of success for the Democratic Party," he said. "What I said is sometimes we forget about that, because you had an extraordinary president, an extraordinary candidate … They forget about what was happening at the grassroots level."
Sanders went on tell Sharpton it was a "disgrace that the Democratic Party is not a 50-state party."
"How do you concede states like Mississippi or South Carolina or Idaho … or Kansas? You can't be a strong national party unless you exist in 50 states," he said.