Sanders on Clinton's 'nobody likes him' claim: 'On a good day, my wife likes me'

Martin Pengelly
Photograph: Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters

Bernie Sanders has responded to Hillary Clinton’s claim that “nobody likes him”, saying: “On a good day, my wife likes me, so let’s clear the air on that one.”

Related: I worked for Hillary Clinton. Her attacks on Bernie Sanders are a big mistake | Peter Daou with Leela Daou

Clinton made her remarks in a forthcoming Hulu documentary, which was quoted by the Hollywood Reporter.

Sanders first issued a statement saying he was concentrating on the impeachment of Donald Trump. But later on Tuesday, as Trump’s Senate trial began in earnest, he spoke to an NBC reporter.

Asked why he thought Clinton was still talking about the 2016 election, Sanders said: “That’s a good question. You should ask her.”

Clinton did not hold back.

“He was in Congress for years [and] had one senator support him,” she said in the released excerpts from the Hulu documentary. She also called Sanders “a career politician” whose claim to represent American workers was “just baloney”.

“I feel so bad that people got sucked into it,” Clinton said.

Clinton also criticised the senator’s “leadership team” and “prominent supporters … his online Bernie bros and their relentless attacks on lots of his competitors, particularly the women.”

Asked by the Reporter about Sanders’ alleged comment to Elizabeth Warren, another candidate this year, that no woman could beat Trump in 2020, Clinton said: “I think [that] is untrue, which we should all say loudly.

“I mean, I did get more votes both in the primary, by about 4 million, and in the general election, by about 3 million.”

Sanders has denied making the comment but Warren confronted him about it at the Democratic debate in Iowa last week, saying: “I think you called me a liar on national TV.”

Clinton said: “I think that both the press and the public have to really hold everybody running accountable for what they say and what their campaign says and does. That’s particularly true with what’s going on right now with the Bernie campaign having gone after Elizabeth with a very personal attack on her.

“Then this argument about whether or not or when he did or didn’t say that a woman couldn’t be elected, it’s part of a pattern. If it were a one-off, you might say, ‘OK, fine.’ But he said I was unqualified. I had a lot more experience than he did, and got a lot more done than he had, but that was his attack on me.”

In the Hulu documentary, Clinton also declined to commit to endorsing Sanders, saying: “I’m not going to go there yet. We’re still in a very vigorous primary season.”

In the event, the former first lady, senator and secretary of state went there on Tuesday evening, tweeting: “I thought everyone wanted my authentic, unvarnished views! But to be serious, the No 1 priority for our country and world is retiring Trump, and, as I always have, I will do whatever I can to support our nominee.”

Sanders endorsed Clinton after she won the nomination – but many Clinton supporters think he did not support her to the best of his abilities. Clinton told the radio host Howard Stern in December: “He hurt me. There’s no doubt about it. He hurt me.”

Related: How to dump Trump: Rick Wilson on Running Against the Devil

It is a view shared by some of Clinton’s traditional opponents. In an interview with the Guardian this month, the Republican consultant turned Trump critic Rick Wilson said Clinton “beat [Bernie] fair and square, he took his ball and went home”.

Many on Sanders’ side of the Democratic ledger would counter that the rules of the 2016 primary were not fair and square. Trump has delighted in prodding that sore, tweeting on Wednesday morning: “They are taking the nomination away from Bernie for a second time. Rigged!”

Less than two weeks out from the Iowa caucuses, Sanders leads many polls in that state. He is also polling well in New Hampshire and nationally, although the website still predicts Joe Biden will win the contest overall.

On Monday, CBS broadcast an apology from Sanders for a Guardian column by the Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout, which said Biden had a problem with corruption.

“It is absolutely not my view that Joe is corrupt in any way,” Sanders said. “And I’m sorry that that op-ed appeared.”