Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, who many would likely describe as the most liberal candidate running for office, appears to be running from the label, preferring the term "progressive" instead.
In a CNN interview Thursday, Sanders' senior media advisor, Tad Devine, refused to refer to the Vermont senator as a "liberal," even after being pressed on the issue.
"Sen. Sanders likes to point out that he is the most progressive candidate — points that out a lot frankly in this campaign. Is he the most liberal?" CNN anchor John Berman questioned.
"I've never heard Bernie describe himself as a liberal," Devine replied.
Instead, the senior advisor described the Vermont senator, a self-avowed socialist, as "very progressive."
"I would describe him as someone who is very progressive in terms of his political philosophy. Listen, he gave a speech at Georgetown, and described his political philosophy of being a Democratic socialist, OK?" Devine said laughing.
At that point, Berman continued to push. "So why not just say, 'I'm the most liberal?'"
According to Devine, who appeared to be growing increasingly agitated, Sanders "doesn't feel that word applies to him," adding that the senator is "not running away from the progressive philosophy."
This seems to be the main line of distinction Sanders is drawing between his campaign and the campaign of his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, who won the Iowa Democratic Caucus by a razor-thin margin.
In a recent Twitter battle between the two candidates, Sanders turned the argument toward progressive credentials, claiming Clinton embraced being called a "moderate" in the recent past, battling it out with his political foe over who the "real progressive" is in the race.
Some other days... pic.twitter.com/7SjQdgiiQr— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 3, 2016
In addition, Sanders has recently slammed Clinton for flip-flopping on the issues — claiming to be a progressive only when it is politically profitable — in order to gain the Democratic Party's nomination for president.
Ulimately, Devine told Berman that Sanders' goal is to "finish the unfinished agenda of Franklin Roosevelt," who is heralded as a leader of American liberalism. Devine said that Sanders wants to ensure health care as a "fundamental right" and usher in free "universal college education" for all Americans.
"He is a progressive, in the tradition of Franklin Roosevelt," Devine concluded.
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