Bernie Sanders Calls Out Supporters for Online Attacks, Says 'Harassment of All Forms is Unacceptable'

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders spoke out against online harassment Thursday in response to allegations that supporters of Sanders' campaign were lashing out at the Nevada Culinary Workers Union (NCWU) over a disagreement on health insurance.

Literature distributed by the NCWU said that if Sanders won the presidential election, his Medicare for All program would "end Culinary Healthcare." That plan is opposed by the NCWU which provides health insurance through a specially established trust fund. After the flyer was passed around, the NCWU said it was the victim of harassing emails, tweets and phone calls.

"It's disappointing that Senator Sanders' supporters have viciously attacked the Culinary Union and working families in Nevada simply because our union has provided facts on what certain healthcare proposals might do to take away the system of care we have built over 8 decades," said NCWU Secretary-Treasurer Geoconda Arguello-Kline in a Wednesday statement.

Sanders called for an end to the comments on Thursday, describing them as "unacceptable."

"Harassment of all forms is unacceptable to me, and we urge supporters of all campaigns not to engage in bullying or ugly personal attacks," Sanders said in a statement. "Our campaign is building a multi-generational, multi-racial movement of love, compassion, and justice. We can certainly disagree on issues, but we must do it in a respectful manner."

bernie sanders
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders called for political supporters to refrain from "bullying or ugly personal attacks" in a Thursday statement. Joe Raedle/Getty

Sanders distanced his campaign from the harassment claims during a Thursday interview on PBS NewsHour.

"Anybody making personal attacks against anybody else in my name is not part of our movement," Sanders said. "We don't want them. And I'm not so sure, to be honest with you, that they are necessarily part of our movement."

Nevada is expected to hold its caucuses this February, but the NCWU announced Thursday it would not endorse a candidate.

"We're going to endorse our goals, what we're doing," said Arguello-Kline at a news conference. "We're not going to endorse a political candidate."

Arguello-Kline explained that the union wanted to focus on voting President Donald Trump out of office, working toward immigration reform and expand health care for union members.

Sanders responded to the announcement by saying, "I very much appreciate the struggle that the Culinary Union is waging to improve the lives of working families in Nevada and throughout this country, and I agree with their key goals."

Sanders is currently a front runner in the Democratic race after a victory in the New Hampshire primaries. Recent polling by Morning Consult shows Sanders ahead of his opponents with 29 percent of nationwide Democratic support. Former Vice President Joe Biden came in second with 22 percent of the survey while billionaire Michael Bloomberg landed in third place with 17 percent.

Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who claimed a narrow victory in February's Iowa caucuses, ended up in fourth place with 11 percent of Democratic voters supporting him.