According to every poll, hundreds of thousands of people — perhaps more than a million people — who backed Bernie Sanders’ campaign for president are resistant to back Hillary Clinton. Over the weekend, some gained solace in what appeared to be a quote from the bested presidential candidate: “I will never tell you how to vote. If I do, don’t listen to me.”
The problem is that Sanders never said that. This, the latest in 2016’s healthy genre of fake quotes put into meme form, is a mangled version of something Sanders told a voter at an MSNBC-sponsored town hall in April. David Zakubuwetz, a student casting his first presidential vote for Sanders, informed him that many of his peers would rather write in a name then vote for Hillary Clinton.
“I believe you will win the nomination and the presidency, but if you don’t, will you encourage your supporters to vote for Secretary Clinton?” he asked.
“Thanks for the question, and let me answer it in this way,” said Sanders. “We are not a movement where I can snap my fingers and say to you or to anybody else what you should do, because you won’t listen to me. You shouldn’t. You’ll make these decisions yourself.”
After insisting that Clinton herself would have to earn votes, Sanders clarified that he would not try to undermine her if she won the nomination — as seemed likely at that point. “I will do everything in my power to make sure that no Republican gets into the White House in this election cycle,” said Sanders.
Michael Briggs, Sanders’ spokesman, confirmed that Sanders never told people to “not listen” if he advised them how to vote.
“He did talk about how he couldn’t push a button and make people vote for Secretary Clinton,” said Briggs. “He also said that she would need to make the case for why people should support her.”
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · David Weigel