Less than an hour after Bernie Sanders told supporters he was ending his presidential campaign, dozens of staffers who worked for his opponent four years ago received the same mass email: a link to a Zoom video call scheduled for 4 p.m.
“Invitation: Bye, bye Bernard (HFA celebration toast),” the email to former Hillary Clinton staffers read on early Wednesday afternoon, according to screenshots provided by two people.
“He’s finally gone (again!). Join for a celebratory toast if you can! And yes, you can loop :)”
Later on Wednesday, the name of the Zoom call had been changed to a more generic “HFA end of primary celebration toast,” with no mention of Sanders.
By 3:30 p.m., according to recipients, the call was canceled.
The Democratic operatives who lived through 2016 joke, somewhat bitterly, about the primary that never ended — a one-on-one race between two candidates, and campaign teams, who didn’t particularly respect or like one another.
“Nobody likes him,” Clinton herself said earlier this year in a documentary. “Nobody wants to work with him. He got nothing done. He was a career politician.”
The latest, last gasp of animosity took the form of a 4 p.m. video call in the middle of a pandemic that has turned would-be private toasts and impromptu early afternoon drinks into open calendar invites and Zoom conference calls.
The invite, which made the rounds among groups of friends who worked for Clinton in 2016, spanned a fraction of the “Hillary for America” team, known internally as HFA — an operation that numbered thousands of people by the end of the 2016 race. The organizer of the Zoom call encouraged friends and former colleagues to “loop” in others.
Not all former Clinton aides share the boss’s personal distaste for the 78-year-old Vermont senator. And on debate stages over the last year, many of his rivals expressed their admiration for his consistency and ideas, though few shared a friendship with Sanders, a politician long known for his brusque personal affect.
The recipients of the calendar invite, according to the screenshots shared on Wednesday, include staffers who went on to work for a vast cross-section of the 2020 Democratic field, including Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Steve Bullock, Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Yang, and Michael Bloomberg.
Biden, who is poised to secure the Democratic nomination at the party’s national convention later this year, released a lengthy statement praising Sanders and the “movement” he’s built over the last five years.
“We also want you to know: I’ll be reaching out to you. You will be heard by me. As you say,” Biden said on Wednesday, offering a tribute to the Sanders campaign slogan, “‘Not me, us.’”
Reached through a spokesperson, Clinton had no comment on Sanders’s departure from the race.