Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has made life difficult for centrist Democrats. Sanders self-identifies as a Democratic Socialist; a label most Democrats avoid like the plague.

During and interview airing Tuesday, Hardball’s Chris Matthews asked Hillary Clinton to explain the difference between a Democrat and a Socialist. Not once, not twice, but three times Matthews asked Hillary to explain how Democrats and Socialists are different. Clinton refused. Instead she talked about peace, love, and unity. Yes, really.

The transcript:

Matthews: “But see I’m asking you. You’re a Democrat, he’s [Bernie Sanders] a Socialist. Would you like someone to call you a Socialist? I wouldn’t like someone calling me a Socialist.”

Clinton: “Well, but I’m not one.”

Matthews: “Ok. Well, what’s the difference between a Socialist and a Democrat?”

Clinton: “I can tell you what I am. I am a Progressive Democrat…”

Matthews: “How’s that different than a Socialist?”

Clinton: “…who likes to get things done and who believes we are better off in this country when we are trying to solve problems together; get people to work together. There will always be strong feelings, and I respect that, from the far right, the far left, Libertarians, whoever it might be — we need to get people working together.”

Sanders, who made a video for the sole purpose of explaining Democratic Socialism, described it as, “having a government which reflects the interests of the ordinary people, rather than is currently the case, the billionaire class.” See? That’s wasn’t so hard.

Last year, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Shultz struggled with the same question, as Matthews noted.

The exchange between Matthews and Wasserman Shultz in July of 2015 was almost identical to yesterday’s conversation between Matthews and Clinton. The only difference being Wasserman Shultz went on an unsolicited diatribe about right-wing extremism.

Real Clear Politics posted at the time:

On MSNBC’s Hardball Thursday night, host Chris Matthews stumped DNC Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) when he asked her what the difference is between a Democrat and a socialist.

“What is the difference between a Democrat and a socialist?” Matthews asked, leaving Wasserman Schultz at a loss for words.

“I used to think there is a big difference. What do you think it is?” Matthews tried again. “A Democrat like Hillary and a socialist like Bernie Sanders.”

Wasserman Schultz again was unable to answer and instead tried to tell Matthews what the difference between a Democrat and a Republican is.

“The more important question is what is the difference between being a Democrat and being a Republican,” she said.

“What’s the big difference between a Democrat and a socialist?” Matthews again asked.

“You’re chairman of the democratic party. Tell me the difference between you and a socialist,” Matthews reminded her.

“The relevant debate that we’ll be having this campaign is what’s the difference between a Democrat and a Republican,” Schultz said.

Schultz, however, was able to tell the difference between a Democrat and a Republican.

“The difference between a Democrat and Republican is that Democrats fight to make sure everybody has an opportunity to succeed and the Republicans are strangled by their right-wing extremists,” she said.

At least they have their messaging down?

Follow Kemberlee on Twitter @kemberleekaye


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