09:36 - Source: CNN
Swedish Foreign Minister on refugees, women

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Swedish FM is backing Clinton over Sanders, she says in new interview with CNN

Sanders frequently refers to Sweden as a model for his "democratic socialist" economic plan

CNN —  

Bernie Sanders has been sweet on Sweden for a long time, but a top official from the Scandinavian nation isn’t returning the love.

In an interview Wednesday with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallström said she has a favorite in the race and it’s not Sanders. She’s rooting for Hillary Clinton to win the White House.

Asked if she hoped that Clinton would prevail, Wallström responded: “Yeah, I have to admit I do.”

Sanders often cites Sweden, with its robust welfare state, as a model for the “political revolution” he is seeking to launch in the United States.

“I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway,” he said during the first Democratic debate in October, “and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people.”

In May, when ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked the Vermont senator, who identifies as “democratic socialist,” if he thought voters would be scared off by the term, Sanders said no, “so long as we know what democratic socialism is.”

“And if we know that in countries, in Scandinavia, like Denmark, Norway, Sweden, they are very democratic countries, obviously,” he continued. “In those countries, health care is the right of all people. And in those countries, college education, graduate school is free.”

Republicans have occasionally mocked Sanders’ frequent references to the Scandinavian trio. In the last GOP debate, Marco Rubio suggested his senate colleague might be “a good candidate for president – of Sweden.”

He’d been telling the joke on the trail, but it was panned on its prime-time debut because, as many noted, Sweden, a constitutional monarchy, doesn’t have a president.

But on Tuesday night, Rubio brought back the line during an event in New Hampshire.

“Bernie Sanders is actually a nice guy and I said the other night, he’d be a really good candidate for president – of Sweden,” he said. “And the Swedish people got really upset at me … So I take it back, he’s not a good president for anyone.”

Wallström, who was appointed to her current role in October 2014, is a controversial figure in Sweden and abroad. She has been a vocal critic of the Israeli government and led Sweden in its recognition of a Palestinian state shortly after taking office.

But Wallström’s push for what she calls a “feminist foreign policy” has won her acclaim with some American moderates.

“Striving toward gender equality is not only a goal in itself,” she said during a speech at the U.S. Institute of Peace in January 2015, “but also a precondition for achieving our wider foreign, development and security policy objectives.”

CNN’s Tal Kopan contributed to this report.