Senator Bernie Sanders accused the "establishment" on Sunday of pressuring former Democratic rivals Senator Amy Klobuchar and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg to withdraw from the presidential race and endorse former Vice President Joe Biden to consolidate the centrist vote.
“The establishment put a great deal of pressure on Pete Buttigieg, on Amy Klobuchar, who ran really aggressive campaigns. Well, I know both of them. They work really, really hard. But suddenly, right before Super Tuesday, they announced their withdrawal,” Sanders said during an interview on NBC’s 'Meet the Press'.
“If they had not withdrawn from the race before Super Tuesday, which is kind of a surprise to a lot of people, I suspect we would have won in Minnesota, we would have won in Maine, we would have won in Massachusetts. The turnout may have been a little bit different”, he added.
Following fellow progressive Senator Elizabeth Warren declining to make an endorsement following her own withdrawal, he said he would welcome her support but that the campaign will be victorious based on its working class appeal.
Sanders also addressed accusations by Warren in a recent interview that his supporters had launched personal attacks against her, rejecting abuse as a legitimate tactic.
"That's not what our campaign is about", he said.
He went on to point to the harassment received by members of his own campaign, in particular women of colour working alongside him and the "racist and sexist crap that they have got to deal with".
The comments come as President Donald Trump criticised the Democratic National Committee for "rigging" the contest against Sanders following the abrupt withdrawal of Buttigieg and Klobuchar before a shock victory for Joe Biden in multiple states throughout the country, giving him a slight lead over Sanders in delegates.
Trump also said that the DNC urged Warren to drop out after Super Tuesday in order to ensure that the progressive vote was split.