Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont said Sunday that “no one should be surprised” by his lack of support from other members of Congress because former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is “the candidate of the Democratic establishment.”
“I think we will get some endorsements, but I think it’s very clear to say that Secretary Clinton is the candidate of most of the members of Congress, is the candidate of the Democratic establishment,” Mr. Sanders said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Mr. Sanders, a self-described socialist who was elected to the Senate as an independent and is challenging Mrs. Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, added that voters want a candidate “to take on the establishment.”
“Secretary Clinton has long ties with many of the Democrats in Congress, so it should not be surprising,” Mr. Sanders said. “But I think what is equally interesting is the fact that all over this country, ordinary people, working people, elderly people are moving in our direction because they do want a candidate to take on the establishment.”
Mr. Sanders has drawn headlines for attracting packed crowds at campaign stops in Denver, Des Moines, Iowa, and Madison, Wisconsin, as well as for his rising poll numbers in early primary states Iowa and New Hampshire.
“I think people are coming out to our meetings because they want to hear some straight talk. They want to hear some truth about what’s going on in America today,” Mr. Sanders said.
He’s also drawing attacks from Democrats who back Mrs. Clinton. Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat, said on MSNBC last month that “Bernie is too liberal to gather enough votes in this country to be president.”
“I very rarely read in any coverage of Bernie that he’s a socialist,” Ms. McCaskill said.
That didn’t faze Mr. Sanders. “I think we will get some congressional support as this campaign progresses, but one should not be surprised that much of the establishment is not with me at this point,” he said.
The 73-year-old Mr. Sanders did pick up a key endorsement Friday from longtime New Hampshire Democratic political activist Dudley Dudley, who told CNN that the senator is “very believable.”
“I feel that he is compelling and trustworthy, and I’m hoping that he will get the nomination,” said Ms. Dudley, who backed then-Sen. Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary, although he lost in New Hampshire to Mrs. Clinton.
A CNN/WMUR New Hampshire poll released June 25 found Mr. Sanders trailing Mrs. Clinton by just 8 percentage points in that state, leapfrogging former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who has been viewed as her strongest competition.
“When we got into this race, I thought we had a message that would resonate with working families and the middle class, but we’re seeing huge turnout … all across the country,” Mr. Sanders told WMUR-TV in Manchester, New Hampshire.
His hashtag #FeeltheBern has also grown in popularity on social media, but the RealClearPolitics average as of June 28 still has him running far behind Mrs. Clinton nationwide — by a margin of 62 percent to 14 percent.