Dayton suggests Sanders is not a real Democrat

One day after Vice President Joe Biden decided against running for president, DFL Gov. Mark Dayton took a swipe at Hillary Clinton’s chief Democratic rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

When asked by a reporter what he’d tell Minnesota Democrats about why they should back Hillary Clinton in the precinct caucuses, Dayton praised Clinton’s experience. But he also suggested Sanders hasn’t been fully committed to the Democratic party.

“She’s been secretary of state for four years and has legislative experience. She’s much more rooted in, as Paul Wellstone used to say, the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party,” Dayton said. “Sen. Sanders has not been a Democrat, self-defined, for his entire career.”

Sanders is an independent in the U.S. Senate who caucuses with the Democrats. On the campaign trail, he refers to himself as a democratic socialist.

Dayton’s line of attack against Sanders could highlight a potential liability for the Vermont Senator.

CNN  reports that Sanders has planned a major speech to explain what it means to be a democratic socialist.  The intent of the speech is to assure voters who are worried that Sanders could win the nomination.

Sanders has said he will not run as a third party candidate if he loses the Democratic nomination.

Dayton has been a Clinton backer for years.

He said he sat next to Clinton during their time together in the U.S. Senate. He said he only knew Sanders as a member of the House of Representatives.

Sanders was sworn into the Senate in 2007, the same year Dayton left the Senate after deciding against running for re-election.