Bernie Sanders: 'Maybe I would've been elected president'

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

Bernie Sanders flatly rejected the idea that he played any role in costing Hillary Clinton last week's election, telling an audience in Washington, D.C. Wednesday night that he actually made her a better candidate and possibly could have beat Donald Trump himself.

"I say to those critics, number one, that you can argue the exact reverse, that maybe I would have been elected President of the United States," he said to cheers while being interviewed by Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne on stage at George Washington University.

Related: Hillary Clinton Gives First Speech Since Conceding Election

Sanders appeared at the event to promote his new book, "Our Revolution: A Future To Believe In," and give what a group affiliated with the Vermont senator billed as a "major speech" about the future of the country under a Trump presidency, which he delivered before the question and answer portion.

RELATED: Bernie Sanders supporters

52 PHOTOS
Bernie Sanders supporters
See Gallery
Bernie Sanders supporters
Supporters stand in the crowd cheering as they wait for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to speak during a rally in Carson, California, U.S., May 17, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A man covered in face paint waits to see U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders during a campaign event in Vallejo, California, May 18, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Supporters stand in the crowd cheering as they wait for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to speak during a rally in Carson, California, U.S., May 17, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A supporter holds a sign as the crowd waits for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to speak during a rally in Carson, California, U.S., May 17, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
Women hold up signs and cheer as they wait for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to speak during a rally in Carson, California, U.S., May 17, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
UCLA graduate Miguel Rodriguez, 32, (R) and Joannie Small, 4, queue to listen to U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speak at a campaign rally at Casa del Mexicano in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 4, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A Bernie Sanders supporter texts before the U S. Democratic presidential candidate's campaign rally at Colton Hall in Monterey, California, U.S., May 31, 2016. REUTERS/Michael Fiala
Bernie Sanders supporter Drew Rainer dances prior to the U S. Democratic presidential candidate's campaign rally at Colton Hall in Monterey, California, U.S., May 31, 2016. REUTERS/Michael Fiala
An attendee reacts as Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders prepares to enter Kaiser Permanente Arena during a campaign rally in Santa Cruz, California May 31, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
An attendee holds a sign in support of Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders during a campaign rally in Santa Cruz, California, U.S., May 31, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
A woman holds a sign in support of Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders during a campaign rally in Santa Cruz, California, U.S., May 31, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
Supporters cheer for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders as he speaks at a campaign rally in Santa Barbara, California, U.S. May 28, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Supporters listen as U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally in Santa Maria, California, U.S. May 28, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Supporters cheer for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders as he speaks at a campaign rally in Santa Barbara, California, U.S. May 28, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Supporters wait for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to speak at a campaign rally in Santa Barbara, California, U.S. May 28, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders greets supporters after a campaign rally in Santa Maria, California, U.S. May 28, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders looks as supporters wish him and his wife a happy wedding anniversary at a campaign rally in Santa Barbara, California, U.S. May 28, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Tyler Morris holds up look-a-like puppet of Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is held up during campaign event in San Pedro, California, U.S. May 27, 2016. REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian
A supporter holds a poster of Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at a campaign event in San Pedro, California , U.S. May 27, 2016. REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
Supporter Tina Boyd holds signs inside Johnie's Coffee Shop, which has been closed since 2000, during a one night only re-opening for a rally in favor of Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in Los Angeles, U.S., May 26, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Supporters of U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders cheer at a campaign event in Ventura, California, U.S. May 26, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn
Charles Parker of Desert Hot Springs shows off his large replica U S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders head while waiting in line to hear the senator speak at a campaign rally in Cathedral City, California, U.S., May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Alex Gallardo
Bradley Giles of Cathedral City waits to enter to hear U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speak at a campaign rally in Cathedral City, California, U.S., May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Alex Gallardo
Supporters cheer as U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders arrives to speak at a rally in Anaheim, California, United States, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Supporters wait in line to attend a morning rally for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in Anaheim, California, U.S., May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Supporters listen to U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speak in Santa Monica, California, U.S., May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Supporters hold signs after U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' motorcade passed by in Santa Monica, California, U.S., May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Supporter Maria Antonio waits for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to speak in East Los Angeles, California, U.S. May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Supporter Mette Peluce, 11, waits for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to speak in East Los Angeles, California, U.S. May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Supporter Koelen Andrews, 34, waits for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to speak in East Los Angeles, California, U.S. May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Supporters wait for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to speak in East Los Angeles, California, U.S. May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A supporter waits for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to speak in East Los Angeles, California, U.S. May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
People cheer at a campaign rally for U S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in Irvine, California, U.S. May 22, 2016. REUTERS/Alex Gallardo
Young female supports cheer as U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders steps up to the podium during a rally in Vista, California, United States May 22, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Supporters cheer as U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks during a rally in Vista, California, United States, May 22, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Joshua Zepeda of Escondido, takes off his shirt as he attends a rally for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in Vista, California, United States, May 22, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A supporter of U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders wears a wig in San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 16, 2016. REUTERS/Alvin Baez
Supporters cheer for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at a campaign rally in Stockton, California, United States, May 10, 2016. REUTERS/Max Whittaker
From left, Myrna Leon, her daughter Bella Leon and her mother Frances Hernandez cheer for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at a campaign rally in Stockton, California, United States, May 10, 2016. REUTERS/Max Whittaker
Supporters cheer for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at a campaign rally in Stockton, California, United States, May 10, 2016. REUTERS/Max Whittaker
Supporters cheer and hold up banners before the arrival of U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at a campaign rally in Sacramento, California United States May 9, 2016. REUTERS/Fred Greaves
Brydon Sullivan, 8, wearing a Bernie Sanders costume, waits for the U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Sanders to arrive at a campaign rally in Sacramento, California United States May 9, 2016. REUTERS/Fred Greaves
Supporters cheer as U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally in New Brunswick, New Jersey, U.S., May 8, 2016. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addresses the crowd during a campaign rally at Heritage Hall in Lexington, Kentucky, U.S. May 4, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II
Supporters of Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders cheer during his five state primary night rally in Huntington, West Virginia, U.S., April 26, 2016. REUTERS/Marcus Constantino
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - MAY 9: Bernie Sanders supporters cheer during a rally with the Democratic presidential hopeful at Boardwalk Hall on May 9, 2016 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Sanders is campaigning in New Jersey ahead of the state's primary on June 7. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, ME - MAY 5: Bernie Sanders supporters holding a 'We Love Bernie March' a day before the state Democratic Party Convention march down Congress St. in Portland Thursday, May 5, 2016. (Photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 3: Campaign supporters show their support for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders as he speaks to them during a campaign rally at the Big Four Lawn park May 3, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. Sanders is preparing for Kentucky's May 17th primary. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 3: Campaign supporters show their support for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders as he speaks to them during a campaign rally at the Big Four Lawn park May 3, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. Sanders is preparing for Kentucky's May 17th primary. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
SOUTH BEND, IN - MAY 01: People cheer as Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (D-VT) speaks during a campaign rally at the Century Center on May 1, 2016 in South Bend, Indiana. Sanders continues to campaign leading up to the state of Indiana's primary day on Tuesday. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 29: People listen as Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) speaks during a rally at the Indiana state Capitol on April 29, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Sanders addressed the rally of mostly union workers and their supporters protesting the Carrier Corp. plans to cut 1,400 manufacturing jobs in Indianapolis and move 2,100 jobs to Mexico. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

Dionne pressed the Vermont senator on criticism that he damaged Clinton during their primary campaign by drawing out the race and telling supporters that his rival was corrupt and that the system was rigged.

Sanders rejected the notion out of hand. "The presumption behind that question is, I guess, we should anoint candidates for president," he said, noting that stolen emails released by Wikileaks showed the Democratic National Committee was "not a neutral force" in the primary.

And he argued that the pressure he applied to Clinton made her better equipped to challenge a populist like Trump.

"Do I think our campaign, in a sense, made Hillary Clinton a better candidate? Yeah I do," Sanders explained. "And I'll tell you why, because by the end the campaign she was against the Keystone Pipeline, by the end the campaign she was against the [Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal], by the end the campaign she was for making public colleges and universities tuition free."

Related: Trump Out-Campaigned Clinton by 50 Percent in Battleground States in Final Stretch

Trump upset Clinton in key state like Michigan and Wisconsin which have traditionally gone Democratic. Sanders beat Clinton in those states, whose contests were held during a particularly acrimonious phase of the primary, leading some commentators to blame Sanders for the less and compare him to Ralph Nader, the Green Party candidate who spoiled the 2000 election for Democrat Al Gore.

"My campaign brought millions of people into the political process, the overwhelming majority of whom ended up voting for Hillary Clinton," Sanders said, noting he stumped for Clinton in the campaign's closing weeks. "Very few people in this country worked harder for Hillary Clinton than I did."

RELATED: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders together

12 PHOTOS
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders together
See Gallery
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders together
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders stand together during a campaign rally where Sanders endorsed Clinton in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, U.S., July 12, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder - TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
LAS VEGAS, NV - October 13: Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton pictured at the 2015 CNN Democratic Presidential Debate at Wynn Resort in Las Vegas, NV on October 13, 2015. Credit: Erik Kabik Photography/ MediaPunch/IPX
Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, left, and Hillary Rodham Clinton laugh during the CNN Democratic presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., center, and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, talk backstage before the start of the Iowa Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Bernie Sanders, left, offers an apology to Hillary Clinton during a Democratic presidential primary debate Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton and Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. speak during a break at the NBC, YouTube Democratic presidential debate at the Gaillard Center, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, reacts to Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton's answer to a question during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by MSNBC at the University of New Hampshire Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Durham, N.H. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, left, and Hillary Clinton take the stage before a Democratic presidential primary debate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)
Democratic presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, shake hands before the start of the Univision, Washington Post Democratic presidential debate at Miami-Dade College, Wednesday, March 9, 2016, in Miami, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-V.t, right, speaks as Hillary Clinton listens during the CNN Democratic Presidential Primary Debate at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on Thursday, April 14, 2016 in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton listens as Sen.Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. speaks during a rally in Portsmouth, N.H., Tuesday, July 12, 2016, where Sanders endorsed Clinton. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

But even as praised Clinton, he said the Democratic Party now faces a fundamental test if it hopes to come back from last week's loss.

"Which side are you on?" Sanders said. "Can you go out and raise substantial sums of money from the wealthy and Wall Street and those powerful special interest then convince the American people you are on the side of workers and the middle class. Or you do you finally have to say we are going to take on the oligarchy?"

"That is a fundamental difference that exists between Bill and Hillary Clinton and myself," he said.

Sanders added that ordinary people need to know the Democratic Party has the guts to stand up to powerful interests. "If we can't do that, I don't see much of a future for the Democratic Party," he said.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners