WASHINGTON — Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said Sunday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is being “a little” too tough with her recent criticisms of progressive House freshmen like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
Asked about growing tensions between the House Democrats, Sanders said that he supports “Alexandria and the other women’s desire to bring more people, especially young people, working class people, into the Democratic Party.” And when asked if Pelosi is being too tough on those freshmen lawmakers, Sanders replied, “I think a little bit.”
“You cannot ignore the young people of this country who are passionate about economic and racial and social and environmental justice. You’ve got to bring them in, not alienate them,” Sanders said in an appearance on "Meet the Press."
There’s long been a tenuous alliance between lawmakers like Ocasio-Cortez and House leadership like Pelosi on both the direction and the strategy of the Democratic Party.
But it’s been a raucous few weeks for the relationship between those sides. Pelosi criticized the group of progressive Democratic lawmakers — Ocasio-Cortez and Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass. — in the New York Times by arguing that “all these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world.”
“But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got,” she added.
Ocasio-Cortez responded in The Washington Post days later by criticizing the “explicit singling out of newly elected women of color.”
Sanders joined “Meet the Press” days after NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll of the Democratic presidential primary race showed Sanders tied with Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., in third place behind fellow Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and former Vice President Joe Biden.
While Sanders had the progressive lane to himself in the 2016 presidential race, he has to split that pie with a whole host of Democratic presidential hopefuls.
In that poll, Warren is leading Sanders among those who say they want a nominee who proposes large-scale change.
When asked about his response to Warren’s lead among those voters, Sanders demurred.
“Elizabeth is a good friend of mine, and all I can say is the following. What people understand is that for decades now there have been great speeches, great legislation, great plans about how to move the working class of this country forward. And yet in the last 30 years, unbelievably, the top 1 percent has seen a $21 trillion increase in their wealth, while the bottom half have fallen even further behind,” he said.
“What we need is a political revolution. And I think I am the only candidate who has been clear about that, who has the capability of doing that and defeating Donald Trump in the process.”
Bernie Sanders and wife, Jane
Bernie Sanders and wife, Jane
Former Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders hugs his wife Jane after making a motion to suspend the rules and nominate Hillary Clinton as the Demcoratic presidential nominee at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 26, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders gets a kiss from his wife Jane as he addresses supporters following the closing of the polls in the California presidential primary in Santa Monica, California, U.S., June 7, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and his wife Jane wave to the audience during a rally in Vallejo, California, May 18, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
PORTSMOUTH, NH - With Jane Sanders, Democratic Presumptive Nominee for President former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attends a rally with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) at Portsmouth High School Gymnasium in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on Tuesday, July 12, 2016. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Jane O'Meara Sanders walks on the floor during the third day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 27, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. / AFP / Robyn BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders kisses his wife, Jane O'Meara Sanders, at a rally in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, United States October 14, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (C) hugs his wife Jane Sanders (L) while actress Susan Sarandon surveys the overflow room at a campaign rally in Fairfield, Iowa January 28, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' wife Jane (R) waves to the crowd as Sanders acknowledges her and his step daughters Carina (L) and Heather (C) as Sanders addresses his final campaign rally before the Iowa Caucus at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa January 31, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
Jane Sanders, wife of Vermont Senator and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, listens during an interview following a campaign event in Fort Madison, Iowa, U.S., on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016. In advance of Monday's Iowa caucuses, the first electoral contest of the presidential primaries, Jane Sanders has ventured out often on her own, sometimes with multiple events the same day. Photographer: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, walks with his wife Jane Sanders ahead of the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015. With Vice President Joe Biden officially out of the presidential race, the nation's first nominating contest between front-runner Hillary Clinton and Sanders is gaining steam, according to a new Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register Iowa Poll. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
FLORENCE, SOUTH CAROLINA - SEPTEMBER 12: With his wife Jane O'Meara, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) prepares to speak at a Florence Town Hall Meeting in an arena in Florence, South Carolina on Saturday September 12, 2015. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)