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Sen. Bernie Sanders said on ABC's "This Week" Sunday that he believes "the establishment" forced Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg out of the 2020 presidential race to ensure that voters "coalesced" around Joe Biden in order to defeat him.

Why it matters: Klobuchar and Buttigieg both dropped out and endorsed Biden last week, helping the former vice president earn a sweeping victory in 10 out of 14 Super Tuesday states — especially among late-deciding voters. Sanders said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he would have won more states if the two moderates hadn't dropped out.

The big picture: Sanders has branded himself throughout the 2020 campaign as an outsider who is taking on not only Republicans and President Trump, but the Democratic establishment as well.

  • While it's undoubtedly true that many mainstream Democrats fear that Sanders may lose to Trump and damage down-ballot candidates, the Vermont senator has faced some criticism for attributing his loss in South Carolina and Super Tuesday states to the power of the establishment.
  • House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, whose endorsement of Biden helped the former vice president surge in South Carolina, said last week that he finds it "very interesting that someone is referring to African American voters in South Carolina as the establishment."

Watch:

What they're saying:

"One of the things I was kind of not surprised by was the power of the establishment to force Amy Klobuchar, who had worked so hard, and Pete Buttigieg, who really worked extremely hard as well, out of the race. What was very clear from the media narrative and what the establishment wanted was to make sure that people coalesced around Biden and try to defeat me.
We are taking on, as I think everybody knows, the establishment. We are taking on the corporate establishment. We're taking on the political establishment. And what you are seeing now, just in the last few weeks, is Wall Street, the health care industry, the billionaire class putting a lot of money into Joe's campaign. But at the end of the day, you know what? I think we're going to win this thing."
— Bernie Sanders

Lis Smith, senior communications adviser for the Buttigieg campaign, responded to Sanders' comments in a tweet Sunday, saying Buttigieg's "decision to get out of the race was his and his alone."

The bottom line: Despite his attacks on the Democratic establishment, Sanders has said he will do everything he can to help Biden defeat Trump if Biden ultimately wins the nomination.

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