Sanders Sets The Record Straight: My Supporters Are ‘Not Anti-Clinton’ (VIDEO)

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, once thought to be an underdog in the race to win the Democratic primary, has been swiftly gaining on Hillary Clinton for months, but Saturday marked an important day for the Democratic Socialist: an Iowa poll placed him within seven points of Hillary Clinton. Democrats are split on which of the two candidates, both of whom have a lot to offer our country, they support the most, with 37 percent standing behind Clinton and 30 percent supporting Sanders. The poll includes Joe Biden in the mix, but Clinton still falls well below her typical 50 percent if Vice President Biden is not considered.

“This feels like 2008 all over again,” said J. Ann Selzer, pollster for the Iowa Poll. The Des Moines Register reminds us that in 2008:

“Clinton led John Edwards by 6 percentage points and Barack Obama by 7 points in an early October Iowa Poll. But Obama, buoyed by younger voters and first-time caucusgoers, surged ahead by late November.”

The publication notes that Sanders “is attracting more first-time caucusgoers than Clinton,” claiming 43 percent of their vote, compared to Clinton’s 31 percent. Among voters under 45-years-old, Sanders leads the former First Lady by an astounding 23 percentage points, and by 21 points among Independent voters.

In the same poll, 96 percent of Sanders supporters say they are behind him because they “support him and his ideals.”  Though many Clinton supporters accuse those who side with Sanders of voting for him because they hate Hillary, only 2 percent said this was the case.

On Sunday, Sanders weighed in on the issue, explaining that his supporters are “not necessarily anti-Hillary Clinton.” The 2016 hopeful told ABC’s Martha Raddatz:

“I think the gains that we are seeing, and the enthusiasm and the huge crowds that we are seeing, this is not anti-Hillary Clinton. This is pro-Bernie Sanders and pro a message that says enough is enough. This country and our government belong to all of us, not just a handful of very wealthy people.”

Asked if Clinton’s campaign is in trouble, Sanders — as is typical, given his strong opposition to personal attacks on his opponents — avoided attacking Clinton. “I don’t know if her campaign is in trouble,” he said,”but our campaign is doing great.” Sanders said that people all across the country are responding to their message that “something is wrong when the middle class in this country continues to disappear…and almost all of the new wealth created in this country is going to the top one percent; That is not the type of country, not the type of economy, that the American people want or deserve.”

No matter who Democrats ultimately support, Sanders said that we need a candidate who will energize voters. The Senator pointed to the huge losses suffered by Democrats thanks to an apathetic base in 2014:

“Democratic leaders are not dumb. What they want and what I want is to make sure that we do not see a Republican gain control over the White House.

And I think as these leaders look around the country and see the kind of energy and see the kind of huge turnouts we’re getting, seeing the kind of young people who, for the first time, are getting involved in the political process, see the kind of working people who are coming out to our events, I think what these leaders — maybe not today but in a couple months will say, you know, we want to win.”

Both Sanders and Clinton are great choices, and to support one is not to hate the other. Many Sanders supporters do view Clinton as part of the problem, though to say that they are “anti-Hillary” would be quite a stretch. In a recent poll, both Sanders and Clinton — who each have their value as candidates — polled similarly against all Republican candidates.

It is still too early to know who will win the primary, but the important thing is that Democrats mobilize and go to the polls in 2016. Watch Sanders shoot down claims of anti-Hillary bias among his supporters, below:

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