Former US Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has said that he could have defeated Republican nominee Donald Trump in a general election, rejecting the notion that his campaign undermined Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the White House.
The Independent senator, who was seeking the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, made the remarks at an event at the George Washington University on Wednesday night when a Washington Post reporter asked whether he hurt Clinton’s chances at the presidency.
“You can argue the exact reverse — that maybe I would have been elected president of the United States
,” Sanders said to cheers from the crowd.
“The presumption behind that question is that we should anoint candidates for president, that a serious debate or candidates competing against each other is a bad thing for democracy,” he stated.
The Vermont senator said that he brought “millions of people into the process” and that the vast majority likely voted for Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee who lost to Trump after a bruising battle on November 8.
Sanders argued that his campaign made Clinton a “stronger candidate” because he forced her to take a position against the controversial projects like Keystone Pipeline and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
“Few people in this country worked harder for Hillary Clinton than I did,” he claimed.
Sanders ran a close race with Clinton during the primaries and promised to continue the fight all the way until the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in June, where the party’s nominee was going to be named.
Towards the end of the race, however, Sanders changed his tone and bowed out in favor of Clinton. He also appeared next to her during the DNC and officially endorsed her by giving an emotional speech.
US Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during his rally at the Charleston Civic Center on May 5, 2016 in Charleston, West Virginia. (Photo by AFP)
According to a pre-election poll released this week, Sanders would have beaten Trump by a large margin if he had been the Democratic nominee instead of Clinton.
Sanders has received 56 percent of the vote for the White House, while Trump would have won 44 percent, according to the national survey conducted by Gravis Marketing two days before the November 8 presidential election.
Moreover, independent voters, who made up about 30 percent of American voters this year, favored Sanders over Trump, 55 percent to 45 percent, the poll found.
In addition, WikiLeaks said in a statement last week that Trump won the November 8 election because Democrats rigged the system to have Clinton beat Sanders.
Sanders could have won the election but the Democratic National Committee (DNC) stopped him from doing so by pushing him out from the primary race, the whistleblowing agency suggested in a statement published on its website.
WikiLeaks claimed that the Democratic Party establishment conspired to ensure Clinton win the party’s presidential nomination. In doing so it chose a weaker candidate who lost the election against Trump on Tuesday, the agency suggested.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange makes a speech from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Britain, February 5, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)
The Democratic Party “defeated the purpose of running a primary” by pushing Sanders out of the race, said WikiLeaks.
Numerous polls taken before the presidential election showed that Clinton and Trump were deeply unpopular politicians, while Sanders enjoyed very high popularity.
Clinton, a former first lady, US senator and secretary of state, was viewed by many voters as a corrupt member of the elite Washington establishment.