The Democratic National Committee caught some heat from pro-abortion groups last week for campaigning with a mayoral candidate in Omaha, Nebraska, Heath Mello, who once supported pro-life legislation. It was supposed to be just another stop on the DNC's unity tour until NARAL learned of the candidate's voting record. The visual of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) joining Mello onstage was inexcusable, according to NARAL.
Sanders is now defending the event, insisting Democrats must reach out to politicians who they may not agree with on every single issue. The end goal, he said, is to win elections so they can pursue their progressive agenda.
"The truth is that in some conservative states there will be candidates that are popular candidates who may not agree with me on every issue. I understand it. That's what politics is about," Sanders told NPR.
"If we are going to protect a woman's right to choose, at the end of the day we're going to need Democratic control over the House and the Senate, and state governments all over this nation," he said. "And we have got to appreciate where people come from, and do our best to fight for the pro-choice agenda. But I think you just can't exclude people who disagree with us on one issue."
The issue got even thornier when DNC staffers laid the blame on Sanders for the controversial unity tour bus stop, according to NPR. It was all his idea!
The DNC is doing its best to distance itself from the Mello endorsement. Party staffers were quick to tell reporters that it was Sanders', and not the DNC's, idea to hold a rally for Mello.
Considering how badly the Democrats fared in November - and since in special elections in Georgia and Kansas - Sanders may have a point.
Yet, the DNC unity tour has on the surface been a disaster. Before the Mello controversy, DNC Chair Tom Perez was booed by the crowd during one of the tour's first stops in Maine. As for Sanders, despite being one of the DNC unity tour's headliners, continues to reject the label 'Democrat.'
Oh and in case you're wondering, the "anti-abortion rights" legislation for which Mello is guilty of voting for required women to undergo ultrasounds before going through with an abortion - hardly a radical idea.