As his campaign sputtered toward the end of the Democratic primaries and he was forced to admit he was mathematically eliminated from winning the presidential nomination, Bernie Sanders made it a point to say he could not simply tell his supporters who to vote for.
Apparently, he's changed his mind.
One day after telling his supporters to get in line behind Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton instead of defecting to Republican Donald Trump, Sanders urged those same supporters not to vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein, according to The Hill.
In recent weeks, Stein has courted disaffected Sanders voters, turning up her rhetoric in the wake of a July 22 WikiLeaks trove of almost 20,000 emails showing the Democratic National Committee -- which was supposed to remain neutral in the primary contest -- actively worked against the Sanders campaign, while pushing Clinton as the nominee.
At one point, DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz wrote in a private email that Sanders "isn't going to be president," the Boston Herald reports. Other emails revealed plans to discredit Sanders, including an exchange in which a top-ranking DNC official floated an idea to use Sanders' religious beliefs against him in southern state primaries.
For months during the primaries, Sanders himself complained that the DNC was trying to undermine his campaign, and told NBC's Chuck Todd on July 24 that he wasn't surprised by the content of the newly-leaked DNC communications.
The email leak threatened to rupture the alliance between Sanders and Clinton, and was the impetus behind mass protests as the Democratic National Convention kicked off on July 25 in Philadelphia. Sanders was booed by some of his own supporters when he urged them to vote for Clinton, and Wasserman-Schultz -- who agreed to resign from her post after the convention wraps up -- was jeered off stage during a morning speech on July 25.
On July 26, Sanders again risked the ire of supporters by telling them not to vote for Stein, whose policy positions closely reflect the Vermont senator's own.
“I don't know the leadership of the Green Party, but I respect what they're trying to do,” Sanders said, per The Washington Post. “They're focusing on very, very important issues. But I think right now -- what is it, three, four months before an election -- you're going to end up having a choice. Either Hillary Clinton is going to become president, or Donald Trump.”
Despite the plea from Sanders, some who voted for him in the primaries said they won't vote for Clinton in the general election. Among them was Rossana Foote, a 52-year-old elementary school teacher from Los Angeles who told Bloomberg Politics she plans to vote for Stein.
"It’s one thing to lose when people were honest, but it’s another thing when you feel like you were stabbed in the back," Foote said. "That’s how a lot of people who were with Bernie feel."
Stein, who is also in Philadelphia, played to the disenfranchised voters during a speech in a city park on July 25. She asked Sanders supporters for their votes, while knocking the DNC for undermining the campaign of one of their own. It was one of several events the Green Party staged to urge a "DemExit," a reference to the recent "Brexit" U.K. vote to depart from the European Union.
"They did much more than say bad things -- they sabotaged a truly revolutionary campaign," Stein told the crowd, Bloomberg reported. "We have news for them. We’re not going away, we’re only getting stronger."