5 Subtle Times Bernie Sanders Called Out Hillary Clinton Without Saying Her Name

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama attacked each another very aggressively during the 2008 Democratic primary, but that kind of dynamic hasn’t repeated itself so far in 2016. This time around, Clinton and Bernie Sanders (and to a lesser extent, Martin O’Malley) have largely kept the gloves on when addressing or referring to one another. That doesn’t mean it’s been an entirely clean campaign, however. Sanders has called out Clinton on several occasions. He’s just been subtle about it.

It’s easy to forget, given their eventual rapprochement, that Clinton and Obama really went at it back in 2008. The animosity between the two eventually subsided. Obama appointed Clinton as secretary of state shortly after taking office, and the two gradually made the transition from enemies to allies.

Yet the specter of that nasty primary fight is undoubtedly on the minds of both Clinton and Sanders as they duke it out this time around. Sanders doesn’t want to criticize Clinton too much, but it’s hard to win a primary if you flatly refuse to ever critique your opponent at all. While Sanders has stated on multiple occasions that he won’t run a negative campaign against Clinton, that hasn’t stopped him from taking oblique jabs at the frontrunner from time to time.

On Iraq

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“I'm the former chairman of the Senate Veterans Committee, and in that capacity I learned a very powerful lesson about the cost of war, and I will do everything that I can to make sure that the United States does not get involved in another quagmire like we did in Iraq, the worst foreign policy blunder in the history of this country.”

Sanders never mentioned Clinton by name here during the first Democratic debate. But by referring to Iraq as “the worst foreign policy blunder in the history of this country,” Sanders is unavoidably highlighting the fact that as a senator, Clinton voted to authorize the Iraq War.

On Gay Marriage

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Today, some are trying to rewrite history by saying they voted for one anti-gay law to stop something worse ... Let us be clear. That’s just not true. There was a small minority opposed to discriminating against our gay brothers and sisters. Not everybody held that position in 1996.”

This dig from a speech at the annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner is a reference to Clinton’s support for the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. Clinton had recently claimed that she supported DOMA only to prevent a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

On The Minimum Wage

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“You have no disposable income when you're making 10, 12 bucks an hour.”

Sanders didn’t say “12 bucks an hour” by accident during the second Democratic debate. That’s the precise minimum wage that Clinton supports. Sanders, on the other hand, wants to increase it to $15 an hour.

On Trade

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"[The Transpacific Partnership] is not now, nor has it ever been, the ‘gold standard’ of trade agreements ... I did not support it yesterday. I do not support it today, and I will not support it tomorrow!”

Clinton infamously said in 2012 that TPP “sets the gold standard in trade agreements.” She recently came out against the agreement in its current form.

On Multiple Issues

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“[I]n my view. what we need to do is create millions of jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure; raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour; pay equity for women workers; and our disastrous trade policies, which have cost us millions of jobs; and make every public college and university in this country tuition free.”

On the surface, none of this sounds too confrontational. But in this one statement from the first Democratic debate, Sanders drew a contrast between himself and Clinton on not one but three separate issues: minimum wage (see above), trade (Clinton has expressed support for TPP, though she’s backtracking somewhat now), and the cost of higher education (Clinton hasn’t supported free college tuition). That’s three swipes for the price of one.