Sen. Bernie Sanders was not messing around during a Wednesday appearance on The View. When Meghan McCain asked how he can "stand by the Squad" given their recent remarks about Israel, Sanders shut down her line of questioning entirely and explained that the progressive faction's comments have been taken out of context. "It's not my job to have to defend every member of Congress any more than it is their job to defend every statement that I make," said the Vermont senator.
McCain was only able to ask two questions during Sanders' Wednesday morning appearance, but right away, it was clear where her head was at. During the first portion of the interview, McCain said that Sanders' "surrogates and supporters" have called "Israel an apartheid state" and implied that "Israel is akin to terrorist organizations" around the world. "Do you agree that this kind of anti-Israel rhetoric — and I want to make it clear, again, I'm not talking about criticizing certain Israeli policies — has contributed to the rise in attacks against Jewish Americans?" asked the conservative co-host.
While Sanders agreed that anti-Semitism is "obviously unacceptable" and must be combatted "in any and every way," he insisted that the United States needs "an even-handed policy" towards the conflict in Israel/Palestine. "It cannot simply be 100% pro-Israel," he said. "I want to see the United States work with other countries to try to bring the Israelis and the Palestinians together to bring about some peace in that region."
After the commercial break, McCain doubled down. "You are the godfather of the Squad ... But it feels like the Squad today has moved even to the left of you," she said. "How is it for you to stand by everything AOC, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar have said and done — particularly when it comes to Israel and talking about 'from the river to the sea' and the extermination of Israel as a right to exist — or do you think the movement, which you started, has moved away from what you envisioned?"
"Well, Meghan, first of all, I don't believe that's what they're saying," replied Sanders, adding that "it's not [his] job" to defend everything said by other members of Congress. Rather than focus on such things, he informed McCain, his main concern is that "the very rich in America have become much richer, while real Americans are struggling," and he hopes to address this issue with the government's new spending bill.
"I think the progressives in the House are doing a very good job standing up for working families," concluded Sanders. "It's not my job to comment on everything that any member of the House says any more than it is for them to comment on what I say."
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Claire Spellberg Lustig is the TV Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.