The Slatest

Clinton Says She’s “Sick of the Sanders Campaign Lying” About Her—Which It Isn’t Doing

Hillary Clinton at a campaign rally at the Apollo Theater in New York on Wednesday.

Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton has a commanding—and nearly insurmountable—lead in the Democratic race, but there are at least two things she just can’t seem to shake: Bernie Sanders supporters and climate activists. On the trail on Thursday, both combined to make things more than a little awkward for a candidate who would prefer to be turning her full attention to the general election. Clinton, though, didn’t seem to care.

At a campaign event in Purchase, New York, a large group of Bernie supporters interrupted Hillary’s speech by chanting, “She wins, we lose,” before walking out of the event. Clinton didn’t exactly extend an olive branch to demonstrators on their way out the door. “Oh, I know the Bernie people came to say that,” she said, breaking into a smile. “We’re very sorry you’re leaving.” Clinton then reminded the crowd that she’s earned far more votes than Sanders has this year, before adding: “What I regret is they don’t want the contrast between my experience, my plans, my vision, what I know I can get done, and what my opponent is promising.”

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Clinton’s defiant posture didn’t end there, either.

Working the crowd after the event, Clinton was pressed by a Greenpeace activist unaffiliated with the Sanders campaign about the thousands of dollars in donations her campaign has received from individuals with ties to the oil and gas industry. “Will you act on your word to reject fossil-fuel money in the future in your campaign?” Eva Resnick-Day asked. To which Clinton shot back, angrily pointing her finger at the activist: “I do not have—I have money from people who work for fossil fuel companies. I am so sick—I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about me. I’m sick of it.”

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It was an unusual flash of anger on the rope line from Clinton, who has experience playing either dumb or hard of hearing when asked a question she doesn’t want to answer in similar situations. The intensity of her response aside, though, it was similarly disingenuous as many of her previous ones on the topic of campaign cash. Clinton is technically right, her campaign has not received any donations directly from oil and gas corporations—but that’s hardly something to boast about given federal law bars corporations from directly donating to candidates. But as has been well documented by now, Hillary has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the individuals who work for the industry. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, her campaign has received more than $300,000 from oil and gas industry employees this cycle. (For comparison, Bernie Sanders has received a little more than $50,000 from the industry by that same metric, while John Kasich has received $115,000 and Ted Cruz more than $1 million.)

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Hillary’s total, though, climbs higher still if you factor in money raised by fossil-fuel lobbyists who bundle donations on her behalf. A recent Greenpeace report, for example, found that Clinton received more than $1.2 million in donations raised by fossil-fuel industry lobbyists, a number that climbs to $4.5 million if you add the money those same lobbyists also raised for her aligned super PACs. All that cash—to say nothing of the millions companies like ExxonMobil have given to the Clinton foundation—remains a sore spot for many climate activists who remain skeptical that Hillary will deliver on her green promises if she’s elected. Her aggressive response is unlikely to put those fears to rest.

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Still, given her commanding delegate lead, Clinton appears to believe she won’t need to fully win over the climate hawks, nor convince Sanders supporters to love her come November. Instead, she’s banking on the idea that progressive’s fears about what a Republican president would do in office will be a much greater motivating force on Election Day than their doubts about Clinton ever could be. In many ways, that was her plan all along (particularly on climate). But that looks like a safer strategy each day closer she gets to a general election matchup with Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.

Elsewhere in Slate: Eric Holthaus explains the major differences between Hillary and Bernie’s climate positions.

Read more of Slate’s coverage of the 2016 campaign.

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