Democratic strategist James Carville has fired back at Sen. Bernie Sanders after the Vermont independent dismissed him as a “political hack” in an interview with CNN.
“Last night on CNN, Bernie called me a political hack. That’s exactly who the f**k I am!” Carville told Vanity Fair contributor Peter Hamby in a phone interview, according to a tweet Thursday from Hamby. “I am a political hack! I am not an ideologue. I am not a purist. He thinks it’s a pejorative. I kinda like it!”
“At least I’m not a communist,” he added.
The pointed attack comes after Sanders had criticized Carville on Wednesday in response to a barrage of attacks from the former Bill Clinton adviser railing against the direction of the Democratic Party as Sanders gains momentum in the Democratic presidential primary race.
At the center of Carville’s critique of Sanders is the contention that the senator supports policies on topics like immigration and health care that are too liberal to find support from the majority of the country. In an interview with MSNBC earlier this month, Carville said Democrats need to “wake up and make sure that we talk about things that are relevant to people”
He added that the party needs to “decide what we want to be.”
“Do we want to be an ideological cult or do we want to have a majoritarian instinct to be a majority party?” Carville said. Later, he told Vox that Sanders “isn’t a Democrat.”
“He’s never been a Democrat. He’s an ideologue,” Carville said.
The back-and-forth comes on the heels of Sanders’ hard-fought victory in Tuesday’s first-in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire.
In the wake of his upstart bid against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primary, Sanders has built a far more formidable operation this cycle while focusing on broadening his appeal to build a coalition of young voters, working-class voters and voters of color.
No other candidate has his grassroots fundraising advantage, which has allowed Sanders’ campaign to build robust turnout operations in the early-voting states – a boost in the deeply unsettled Democratic field.
On Tuesday night, Sanders proclaimed his victory as “the beginning of the end for Donald Trump.”
After hitting back at Carville on Wednesday night, Sanders added that it’s “no secret to anybody” that “we are taking on the establishment.”
“We are taking on Trump, the Republican establishment, Carville and the Democratic establishment, but at the end of the day, the grassroots movement that we are putting together of young people, of working people, of people of color, want real change.”
CNN’s Maeve Reston contributed to this report.