Debbie Wasserman Schultz: Sanders fully a part of Democrats' work

Sanders defends Trump voters
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Story highlights

  • Schultz says there was a "manufactured battle" between her and Bernie Sanders
  • Sanders has called for major reforms to the Democratic Party

Washington (CNN)Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Thursday downplayed a difference between the Democratic Party and Sen. Bernie Sanders, and said the party has always reached out to the grass roots.

The former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee said in an interview on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront" that her differences with Sanders over grass roots involvement in the party were a "manufactured battle."
"Sen. Sanders is a leader of our party, one of a number of leaders," Schultz said. "It is absolutely fantastic that he is leading an effort to continue to engage our grass-roots activists."
    Schultz resigned her post as head of the DNC after WikiLeaks released hacked emails that critics said demonstrated bias against Sanders in favor of Hillary Clinton. Even before the leaks, Sanders had said if he were elected, he would not reappoint her to the position and endorsed a primary challenger vying for her congressional seat in Florida.
    Schultz said the two are working together now and noted the independent Vermont senator is a member of Senate Democratic leadership.
    Sanders has said repeatedly that he believes the Democratic Party needs fundamental reforms and should become a grass-roots party. In an MSNBC interview at the end of March, Schultz said, "Respectfully to Sen. Sanders, we are already a grass-roots party."
    Schultz, in her CNN interview on Thursday, said Sanders and his staff are "fully integrated" into the work of the Democratic Party.
    "As much as we can make sure that we reach out to the grass roots, as we always have, then we're going to be able to capitalize on it," Schultz said.
    She also denied she took any offense at Sanders' call for an overhaul of the party.
    "I spend no time worrying about the semantics of whether Bernie Sanders thinks we are or aren't a grass-roots party," Schultz said.