Months after telling Hillary Clinton the American people were "sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails," the times may be a-changing for Bernie Sanders he wages an increasingly intense campaign ahead of California's Democratic primary.
In an appearance late Friday on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” Sanders, 74, was asked if the furor over Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state had become large enough for the Vermont senator to rethink his refusal to engage on the issue. "It has," he said, adding, “But this is what I also think: There is an enormous frustration on the part of the American people.”
The State Department’s inspector general found in a report made public on Wednesday that the email set-up violated department rules, that Clinton never sought permission for it, and that the proposal would have been rejected if she had. The report handed Clinton's Republican opponents a fresh line of attack - and Sanders, too, if he chose to take it.
Clinton's competitor for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination won praise at a candidates' debate on October when he said, "Enough of the emails. Let's talk about the real issues facing America.'' At the time, his campaign used the comments in a fund-raising email.
Fast forward seven months and for Sanders, the delegates on offer June 7 in California and five other state nominating contests represent a last-ditch effort to close the gap with Clinton before the Democratic convention in July.
The former secretary of state holds a nearly insurmountable lead in the delegate-amassing contest, and is far ahead in popular votes. But a strong performance in California may boost Sanders's case that superdelegates -- party leaders and elected officials not formally bound to any candidate -- should switch their allegiance to him on the basis of perceived electability against Republican Donald Trump.
In another sign Sanders has taken off the gloves, his campaign late on Friday demanded the ouster of Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy and former Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank from a key platform committee at the Democratic National Convention.
The campaign, in a statement, said the pair are "aggressive attack surrogates" for Clinton, and Sanders's lawyer said Malloy and Frank can’t work impartially “while laboring under such deeply held bias.”
In a four-page letter hand-delivered to Democratic National Committee late Friday, Brad Deutsch, Sanders's campaign counsel, wrote of animosity by Frank toward Sanders dating to 1991.
The pair's criticisms of Sanders have gone beyond dispassionate ideological disagreement and have exposed a deeper professional, political and personal hostility toward the senator and his campaign, Deutsch said.
Democratic officials rejected Sanders's request on Saturday, the Associated Press reported.
Also this week, Sanders, keen for network airtime before the California vote, appeared to get a boost when presumptive Republican nominee Trump agreed to debate him to raise money for a charity. The billionaire businessman backed out on Friday, saying it would be “inappropriate” to debate the second-place Democrat.
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