How Attacking Sanders Could Hurt Clinton in November

Auto bailout line could feed into Trump's narrative

Hillary Clinton has accused rival Bernie Sanders of voting against an auto industry bailout in 2009, but the charge, disputed by the Sanders campaign, could backfire. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Bernie Sanders is again hitting Democratic presidential primary challenger Hillary Clinton for what he calls her misleading description of his vote on a massive auto industry bailout measure. And it could help Donald Trump .  

The Sanders campaign is taking umbrage with comments Clinton made in Kentucky  ahead of that state’s Democratic primary on Tuesday about Sanders' 2009 vote.   

Back then, Sanders voted against an auto bailout bill when it was coupled on the Senate floor with one for Wall Street financial firms. Clinton, as she has in the past, characterized Sanders' vote as one against the U.S. automobile industry.  

[Related: Mini Trumps Sound Like the Nominee] On Monday, Sanders' campaign fired back, noting the independent Vermont senator voted in favor of a $14 billion auto industry aid package in December 2008.  

“It is absolutely untrue to say that Sen. Sanders voted against helping the automobile industry and auto workers,” Michael Briggs , a Sanders spokesman, said in a statement.  

“Secretary Clinton first made this false claim before the Michigan primary ,” Briggs said. “She now is recycling the erroneous charge in Kentucky. Once again, Secretary Clinton is simply not telling the truth.”  

Clinton, who is just 143 delegates shy of securing the Democratic nomination, could be setting herself up for general election attacks by repeating the claim. Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump already has labeled her “Crooked Hillary ” and questions her honesty at every opportunity.  

"Crooked Hillary Clinton, perhaps the most dishonest person to have ever run for the presidency, is also one of the all-time great enablers," Trump tweeted late last month.  


Contact Bennett at johnbennett@cqrollcall.com. Follow him on Twitter at BennettJohnT. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.