Hillary Clinton Unleashes Surrogates To Slam Biden, Sanders

Hillary Clinton has made repeated claims that she is focusing on her own race and not on attacking her Democratic primary rivals, but her top surrogates are on the attack.

In a Saturday interview with CNN, Sen. Claire McCaskill became the first Clinton backer to publicly raise the issue of Vice President Joe Biden’s opposition to the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. As Michael Crowley reported last week in Politico in a story headlined “Biden’s ‘no’ on bin Laden raid could haunt him in 2016,” the potential line of attack has been floated via blind quotes since speculation began about a Biden candidacy – but McCaskill went on the record:

On Sunday, Texas Democratic congressman Joaquin Castro, who is frequently rumored as a potential vice president candidate, ripped Bernie Sanders for a supposed lack of outreach to the Hispanic community during a speech on Clinton’s behalf in Iowa, following a poll showing Sanders gaining on Clinton in the Hawkeye state. The Texas Tribune reports:

“I want to say this in all frankness. I didn’t come here to knock any of the candidates, but Sen. Sanders has not reached out to the Hispanic caucus in Congress, has not reached out to me. I’ve never met the gentleman. [He] has not visited Texas or the Rio Grande Valley,” Castro, a San Antonio Democrat, said during a stop at a Mexican restaurant in Des Moines. “That’s a bit of a concern.”

Castro’s attack was, incidentally, patently false:

Contrary to Castro’s statement, Sanders has visited Texas as a candidate, holding July rallies in Dallas and Houston that drew thousands of supporters. Before entering the 2016 race, Sanders came to Austin to speak at a Travis County Democratic Party dinner and IBEW hall.

These are only the latest salvos in what has become a clear Clinton strategy of using surrogates to damage Clinton’s rivals while giving the candidate plausible deniability. CNN reported that Clinton surrogate Gov. Dannel Malloy attacked Sanders on his gun control record early last week, as Clinton simultaneously touted her record on the issue:

Last week Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, a Democratic surrogate for Hillary Clinton and a gun control advocate in the wake of the Newtown school shooting, highlighted Sanders’ mixed record on gun legislation — including opposing the Brady bill in the early 1990s.

Perhaps Clinton backers are especially motivated to go above and beyond because they know about the consequences of getting on the wrong side of the Clintons. Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson detailed what it’s like to be in the Clinton doghouse, where he spent seven years after endorsing President Obama in 2008: