Violence has been an unfortunate part of the 2016 presidential race on both sides of the aisle. There was a recent incident at a Donald Trump rally in San Diego where one of his supporters pepper-sprayed anti-Trump protesters. But Bernie Sanders is no stranger to having supporters display violent behavior either, with some of them trashing the Nevada Democratic Party Convention and sending threats to its leader a couple of weeks ago. Now he’s publicly condemning some of his supporters for engaging in violence at Trump rallies in California.
In an interview on CNN’s State of the Union, Jake Tapper described these supporters as “very violent,” and ask Sanders if he condemned their actions.
In response, Sanders said:
I condemn it absolutely. And let’s be very clear. We got millions and millions of people who are supporting us, and I want to make it clear that any person who is a Bernie Sanders supporter, please, do not in any way, shape or form engage in violence. That is absolutely not what this campaign is about.
This statement is worth comparing to how Sanders responded to Nevada Democratic Party officials, describing their accusations that his supporters have a “penchant for violence” as “nonsense.” While he said that he was against violence, including the “personal harassment of individuals,” he argued that his supporters as a whole were not more violent than others. Perhaps with focus on his supporters’ anti-Trump violence, however, Sanders has to make sure that remains true, and is therefore saying so on camera.