Bloomberg Once Said 'Young People' Support Sanders Because They Think Socialism is 'That Social Media Stuff'

Democratic presidential candidate and former New York Mayor Mike Blomberg said in 2016 that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders received the support of young people because they misconstrued the meaning of socialism.

"Young people listen to Bernie Sanders, and they said, 'Yeah, democratic, that's good. Socialism, yeah, that's that social media stuff,'" Bloomberg said in December, a little more than a month after the 2016 election in which Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton.

Bloomberg went on to explain the alleged confusion among young voters was thanks to an inadequate school curriculum and an attempt to "dumb down the system" by not offering Western history. He suggested Sanders was representative of a dangerous divide in American politics that's given rise to increasingly extremist and polarized views that could lead to repeating dark chapters of history.

"I think it's very dangerous the world we're going into. You see both the left and the right coming up here, and the middle is getting unfortunately not listened to anymore," Bloomberg said in 2016. "The extremists are going to shape the political culture, if we're not careful going forward. We've had extremism before, particularly on this continent, that didn't work out very well."

Mike Bloomberg young people misconstrue socialism
Democratic presidential candidate former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg delivers remarks during a campaign rally on February 12 in Nashville, Tennessee. Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty

Bloomberg's remarks about Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, came during a speaking event hosted by Oxford University's Saïd Business School and were resurfaced by CNN's Andrew Kaczynski. His campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Similar to 2016, Sanders has performed well among younger voters this primary cycle. According to exit polls from the New Hampshire primary last week, he garnered more young voters than all of his Democratic competitors combined.

Bloomberg is hoping to capture some of the same electorates. Last week, he sponsored content in the form of memes on the Instagram pages of several social media influencers with large, young followings.

Although Bloomberg's concern about extremist views and socialism were voiced years ago, the former mayor has continued to reject some of the more extreme stances held by people like Sanders. He's branded himself as a moderate candidate with the best chance of ousting Trump.

The increasing apprehension among moderate and vulnerable Democrats about a Sanders nomination has only been exacerbated by the senator's stellar performance this primary cycle. They fear Sanders could cost them the White House and threaten members across the country, causing them to lose their majority in the House.

And Democratic strategists have warned about the consequences of a fractured party, particularly headed into a Democratic National Convention this summer with no clear primary winner.

"If this becomes a race not between Donald Trump and the Democratic nominee but between capitalism and socialism, that's both unhealthy for the country and certainly unhealthy for Democrats," Rep. Dean Phillips, who endorsed Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), told Newsweek last week.

Sanders tops the delegate count, along with former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and has a double-digit poll lead headed into Nevada's debate on Wednesday and caucus on Saturday. Bloomberg shook up the Democratic field when a new poll released Tuesday morning showed the billionaire at 19 percent support, securing him a spot on Wednesday night's debate stage for the first time since jumping in the race.

Bloomberg's remarks from the 2016 clip can be found in the video below around the 1:01:00 mark.