Clinton Defends Endorsements Against Sanders' Claim They're 'Establishment'

Clinton defends endorsements from Planned Parenthood, Human Rights Campaign.

January 20, 2016, 11:48 PM

— -- With the race for the Democratic nomination neck-and-neck in the early states of New Hampshire and Iowa, Hillary Clinton found herself Wednesday night defending endorsements she's received from Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign, which she believes should be seen as positives.

“I was somewhat confused when Senator Sanders said well you know Planned Parenthood and Human Rights Campaign, they’re part of the establishment," Clinton told a crowd of 500 in Burlington, Iowa, referring to a cable news interview Bernie Sanders gave Tuesday night.

Sanders told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow that several organizations that have backed Clinton are part of the "establishment" wing of the Democratic party, which Sanders is trying to defeat.

“What we are doing in this campaign, and it just blows my mind every day, because I see it clearly -- we’re taking on the political establishment,” Sanders said. “And so I have friends and supporters in the Human Rights [Campaign], in Planned Parenthood. But you know what? Hillary Clinton has been around there for a very, very long time, and some of these groups are, in fact, part of the establishment.”

After Clinton tweeted her response Wednesday, she went further in Iowa, drawing contrasts to Sanders on healthcare, the economy, and guns. A Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll released January 14th showed Clinton with a two-point lead over Sanders in Iowa, which is in the margin of error.

Clinton reacted to Sanders' statement by saying, "I thought, boy I wish it were. I wish we weren’t fighting all the time to protect women’s rights, to protect women’s health. If it were part of the establishment, that would be time for us to quit having to work so hard and defend it and fight for it. That’s just not the case.”

With less than two weeks until the Iowa Caucus, Clinton thanked the Burlington crowd for their support, even though this race is far from over.

“I just want to say thank you. You know, coming here as I did again starting last April, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with and listen by now to thousands of Iowans, and you have impressed upon me all of your concerns, your hopes.”

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events