Bernie Sanders Accuses Hillary Clinton of 'Categorically Untrue' Statements on His Record

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, speaks at a rally at the Macomb Community College, March 5, 2016, in Warren, Mich. PlayCarlos Osorio/AP Photo
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Bernie Sanders fired back at Hillary Clinton today, telling crowds and reporters during a whirlwind day of campaigning in Michigan that what Clinton said about his voting record with regards to the automobile industry bailout was “categorically untrue.”

“Secretary Clinton tried to make the point that I did not support the bailout of the automobile industry and the millions of jobs that were at stake,” Sanders said, referring to comments Clinton made during last night’s CNN debate. “The only problem with her assertion is that it is categorically untrue.”

Both Clinton and Sanders doubled down today with competing radio as on the issue. Sanders' new ad, sent first to ABC News, accuses Clinton of skewing the truth. "Washington has always had a funny relationship with the truth, so it’s not surprising his opponent is out with a new radio ad trying to distort the truth about Bernie’s record," the announcer in the ad says. "Michigan voters deserve better than typical Washington tactics."

The senator said he was “taken aback” when Clinton made the claim on the debate stage and that it took him a few seconds to understand what she was saying. He in turn accused her attempting to deflect attention from her support of free-trade agreements, which he calls “disastrous,” and going out of her way to “mis-characterize” the series of bailout votes.

“She was saying is that I voted against the Wall Street bailout. That’s true. But what she did not say is that I voted in the one vote that took place to in fact bailout the automobile industry,” he continued. “To suggest that when you vote against a bailout of Wall Street and against the crooks on Wall Street who destroyed this economy ... [you are] voting against the automobile industry is very disingenuous and it is factually incorrect. It may be good politics but it happens to be just incorrect.”

The votes around the auto industry bailout -- an exceptionally important piece of legislation for people in Michigan who vote on Tuesday -- were complicated. In 2008, under President George Bush, senators had the opportunity to vote to move forward a standalone bill that would offer bailout assistance to General Motors and Chrysler.

Sanders voted in favor of the bailout, telling a local radio station it was too important to save manufacturing jobs. “The problem is if you don't act in the midst of a growing recession, what does it mean to create a situation where millions of more people become unemployed? ...I think it would be a terrible idea to add millions more to the unemployment rolls,” he told Vermont Public Radio at the time. Democrats, however, failed to gain enough votes in the Senate to move the bill forward then.

In 2009, senators voted on whether to release a second round of Troubled Asset Relief Program funds, which would primarily be used for Wall Street bailouts. Sanders, citing his fierce opposition to these bailouts, voted against this, although in the end the Obama admiration was able to designate some of this TARP money for the auto bailout.

All of this left Clinton with the opening for her line last night: "I voted to save the auto industry," she said on the stage. "He voted against the money that ended up saving the auto industry.”