Democratic Backlash After Sanders' Supporters Violence in Nevada

Leaders of the party are speaking out about the violence.

ByABC News
May 18, 2016, 7:38 PM

— -- Democratic leaders are speaking out and calling for action from Sen. Bernie Sanders after a group of his supporters became violent at a Nevada political event this weekend.

Sanders has condemned the violence and the leaders chose their words carefully to make it clear that they don't hold Sanders responsible, but their outspokenness suggests that there could be a backlash.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said that he spoke to Sanders today and is "confident" that Sanders condemns the violence. But he was clear to give him a nudge.

"This is a test of leadership as we all know and I'm hopeful and very confident that Sen. Sanders will do the right thing," said Reid, who is a Nevada Democrat himself.

Sanders released a statement on Tuesday saying party leaders in Nevada had been claiming that the Sanders campaign "has a 'penchant for violence.' That is nonsense."

"Our campaign has held giant rallies all across this country, including in high-crime areas, and there have been zero reports of violence. Our campaign of course believes in non-violent change and it goes without saying that I condemn any and all forms of violence, including the personal harassment of individuals," Sanders said.

That wasn't enough for Democratic Party Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz who called his statement "anything but acceptable," saying that it "did not condemn his supporters for acting violently or engaging in intimidation tactics and instead added more fuel to the fire."

Even though Sanders' campaign manager Jeff Weaver accused her of "working against Bernie Sanders," Wasserman-Schultz said that Sanders should stay in the race until the last ballot is cast.

"Bernie Sanders should stay in this race. It's what I've said all along. Until the last vote is counted. His opponent, Hillary Clinton also said that. And it's important that everybody has an opportunity to cast a ballot,” she said on CNN today.

In a statement, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said: "She believes every voice should be heard and no one should be intimidated, harassed or threatened in this process."