Bernie Sanders: ‘No, I do not hate Secretary Clinton’

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2016 presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

Bernie Sanders slapped away Donald Trump’s claim that he “hates” Hillary Clinton, saying he has a “lot of respect” for her while mocking Trump as a “genius” for being able to read his mind.

In an interview on MSNBC Thursday night, Sanders responded to Trump, who at a rally in Maine on Wednesday, told a crowd he knew “what (Sanders) thinks inside” and that the Vermont senator “hates” Hillary Clinton.

“I mean, he cannot stand her,” Trump had said.

Sanders fired back, “He has read my mind! What a man, what a genius! No, the answer is, of course, you know Trump is lying, as he always does. No, I do not hate Secretary Clinton.”

He continued, “I’ve known her for 25 years, I have a lot of respect for her. We’ve worked together. We have disagreements on issues, but to say that I hate her is absolutely untrue.”

Sanders — who has so far withheld his endorsement from Clinton — detailed the state of play between the campaigns as they work on reconciling after a fierce primary fight.

“We are working, I mean as we speak, we are working with the Clinton campaign, trying to be able to come forward and say to my supporters, ‘You know what? Here’s the progress that we have made. Here’s what Secretary Clinton is saying on this issue, on that issue, that means a whole lot to you.’ So I hope that we can reach that goal. We are not there at this moment.”

While he’s been vocally critical of Trump since the last contest in the Democratic presidential primary, Sanders has still not formally dropped his White House bid, although he’s said that “in all likelihood” he will vote for Clinton.

And while Vice President Joe Biden told NPR on Thursday that Sanders had assured him he will endorse Clinton, Sanders pushed back later the same day saying he’s “not quite there yet.”

By David Wright