Democratic presidential candidate Bernard Sanders on Sunday said that nomination rival Hillary Rodham Clinton’s “evolution” on issues such as gay marriage, marijuana and the Keystone XL oil pipeline raise questions about her leadership.
“The issue is, who is prepared under difficult circumstances, when it’s not necessarily popular, to make decisions which are the right decisions rather than 20 years later say, ‘Well, you know, maybe I was wrong or maybe I got to rethink that,’” Mr. Sanders said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“What people want to know is who has leadership,” the senator said.
Mr. Sanders, a Vermont independent and avowed socialist who is Mrs. Clinton’s chief rival for the nomination, recently has intensified his attacks on her policy positions but he says he will not stoop to personal attacks.
The liberal agenda that has made Mr. Sanders a serious contender in the Democratic race has forced Mrs. Clinton to move further left. But Mrs. Clinton remains the front-runner and the favorite to win the nomination.
On the talk show, Mr. Sanders jabbed at Mrs. Clinton for having previously supported the Iraq war, the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that denied marriage to same-sex couples and the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
“Everybody evolves on issues — nothing wrong with that,” he said. “But I think if you look at the important issues facing this country, going back to 2002, who made the analysis, who looked at what [George W.] Bush and [Dick] Cheney were saying on the war in Iraq? It’s one thing to evolve and say, ‘Well, I made a mistake.’ It’s another thing to analyze the information and say, ‘You know what? I think that war is a terrible mistake.’”
Mr. Sanders voted against the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq while Mrs. Clinton, who was a senator from New York at the time, voted for it.
Mrs. Clinton has said her vote for the Iraq war was a mistake. She has said her views on gay marriage and marijuana have evolved to where she supports same-sex marriage as a right and reducing federal restrictions on marijuana.
She also said that she withheld her position on the Keystone XL pipeline for years because, as secretary of state under President Obama, she initiated the review process that ended last week with Mr. Obama rejecting the project.