Sen. Bernie Sanders condemned “bullying and harassment of any kind” Saturday in an email urging people representing his 2020 campaign in the media to act respectfully.
“Let us do our very best to engage respectfully with our Democratic opponents - talking about the issues we are fighting for, not about personalities or past grievances,” Sanders wrote. “I want to be clear that I condemn bullying and harassment of any kind and in any space.”
The email, which a source provided to CNN Sunday, came less than a week after Sanders officially announced his candidacy for president. The letter dissuades supporters from using personal attacks on Sanders’ behalf, saying that the campaign message and rhetoric needs to be the opposite of President Donald Trump’s.
“We must never forget what this campaign is about and who our real opponents are,” Sanders wrote. “They are the most dangerous president in modern American history and the powerful special interests who back his agenda.”
Sanders, an Independent from Vermont who identifies as a Democratic Socialist, has committed to run and govern as a Democrat if elected. His refusal to run as a Democrat in his campaigns for the US Senate has been a sore spot for many in the party. He does caucus with the Democrats as a senator.
Sanders, however, specifically reminded his supporters to refrain from vitriol on social media in regard to his Democratic opponents. He pointed toward a general election when he said his supporters will need to work with their primary opponents to achieve his “number one priority” of removing Trump from office.
“Remember that our struggle is bigger than a Tweet or a Facebook comment,” Sanders wrote. “And remember that our primary opponents are decent people – many have been friends and allies of mine in the Senate.”
Following the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton criticized Sanders and his supporters for attacks on her character and harassment online during their primary fight. The former secretary of state said such attacks created “lasting damage” that made it more difficult for her to unite the party in the general election.
Sanders is one of 10 Democrats to officially announce their candidacy for president. Many candidates have voiced support for progressive policies such as Medicare for all and free college tuition. Sanders says this shift in the party is a result of his 2016 campaign.
His second presidential campaign started with a strong fundraising showing over his opponents, raising nearly $6 million in 24 hours.
The Huffington Post was the first to report about the email.