Bernie Sanders scoffs at Dean Phillips' apology for dismissing his 'rigged' primary claims: 'He's changed his views now that he's a candidate?'

Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.Gaelen Morse/Getty Images; Jens Kalaene/Picture Alliance via Getty Images
  • Rep. Dean Phillips claims the 2024 Democratic primary is rigged against him.

  • He offered an "apology" to Bernie Sanders, who's also criticized the party's nomination process.

  • But Sanders laughed off Phillips' comments when Insider asked him about them on Thursday.

Rep. Dean Phillips is offering an apology to Bernie Sanders — but the Vermont senator isn't all that interested.

On Thursday, the Minnesota congressman and long-shot 2024 presidential candidate argued that the Democratic primary process is rigged, apologizing to the two-time presidential candidate who has made similar claims about the party's nomination process, particularly in 2016.

"I had long dismissed his complaints about the rigged Democratic Party primary system," Phillips wrote on X. "But you know what? He was right. And I apologize, Bernie."

Sanders, who told Insider that he had not seen Phillips' post, scoffed when asked about it at the US Capitol on Thursday.

"He's changed his views now that he's a candidate?" Sanders asked with a palpable smirk. "I'm not getting involved in this."

When Sanders ran for president in 2016, he argued that the primary was rigged in favor of Hillary Clinton, pointing to the scarcity of debates, Clinton's support among so-called "superdelegates," and certain states only allowing registered Democrats to vote in their primary.

In 2020, the Sanders campaign stepped back from that line, with then-Senior Advisor Jeff Weaver telling NBC's Chuck Todd that the primary was "not currently rigged" but that "last time it was rigged."

Interestingly enough, Weaver is now working for Phillips' campaign, telling the Washington Post that the centrist Minnesota congressman is "devoted to dealing with the problems of the middle class in this country."

"I heard about that this morning," Sanders said of Weaver's hiring, before adding that he's "supporting President Biden for re-election. Strongly."

Much like Sanders did in 2016, Phillips is arguing that the lack of scheduled debates means that the 2024 primary is rigged in favor of Biden.

But his argument goes further, including the likelihood that New Hampshire's delegates won't count at the Democratic convention and that he's having a hard time gaining ballot access in certain states.

However, the New Hampshire situation — which Phillips called "voter suppression" — is a result of the state's defiance of the national party's re-ordering of the primary calendar. Biden and the national party have sought to move South Carolina to the front of the calendar, but the New England state is resisting losing its first-in-the-nation status. As a result, Biden has chosen not to file as a candidate there.

As for ballot access, Phillips launched his campaign on October 27, missing the October 16 deadline to file in the early state of Nevada.

"You shouldn't run for President if you're not going to compete for Nevada voters," wrote the state's Democratic senator, Catherine Cortez Masto, on X, calling it a "strong, diverse, pro-union state."

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