Bernie Sanders quickly condemned on Thursday a comment made by one of his surrogates who referred to “corporate Democratic whores” while warming up the crowd at a rally in New York City.
Paul Song, a physician and health care activist, made the remark before Sanders spoke at the event that drew an estimated 27,000 supporters to Washington Square Park on Wednesday night.
“Medicare for all will never happen if we continue to elect corporate Democratic whores who are beholden to big pharma and the private insurance industry instead of us,” Song said.
The Hillary Clinton campaign called for Sanders to disavow the comment.
“Very distressing language to say the least,” Clinton campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri tweeted. “[Bernie Sanders] should disavow.”
— Jennifer Palmieri (@jmpalmieri)April 14, 2016
The Vermont senator did.
“Dr. Song’s comment was inappropriate and insensitive,” Sanders tweeted. “There’s no room for language like that in our political discourse.”
Dr. Song’s comment was inappropriate and insensitive. There’s no room for language like that in our political discourse.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders)April 14, 2016
Song himself took to Twitter to apologize Wednesday night.
“I am very sorry for using the term ‘whore’ to refer to some in congress who are beholden to corporations and not us,” he wrote. “It was insensitive.”
I am very sorry for using the term “whore” to refer to some in congress who are beholden to corporations and not us. It was insensitive.— Paul Y. Song (@paulysong)April 14, 2016
But the phrase took off on Twitter, where supporters of both candidates used the remark to attack each other.
— Amy Tidd (@AmyTidd)April 14, 2016
— Cassandra Fairbanks (@CassandraRules)April 14, 2016
If you’re a Bernie supporter and you’re tweeting #DemocraticWhores in earnest, you’re not a progressive or a radical; you’re a misogynist.— Lauren Rankin (@laurenarankin)April 14, 2016
Corporate #DemocraticWhores is a figurative term that can be applied to far more men than women. It’s sexist 2 assume it’s targeting women.— NoSleepSheep216 (@TwoOneSix216)April 14, 2016
It’s not the first time Sanders has been forced to address strong language used by one of his surrogates.
At a rally in Atlanta in February, rapper Killer Mike, one of the senator’s most visible supporters, stirred controversy while relaying a conversation he had with an activist who told him, “A uterus doesn’t qualify you to be president of the United States.”
In that case, Sanders defended the rapper.
“What Mike said, essentially, is that … people should not be voting for candidates based on their gender, but based on what they believe. I think that makes sense,” Sanders told reporters. “I don’t go around, no one has ever heard me say, ‘Hey, guys, let’s stand together, vote for a man.’ I would never do that, never have.”