WASHINGTON - U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has intensified his fight with Democratic Party leaders by supporting a challenger to the head of Democratic National Committee, and accusing the party establishment of trying to anoint rival Hillary Clinton as its nominee for president.
In a series of television interviews on Sunday, Sanders acknowledged he has an uphill fight to overtake Clinton, the front-runner. He also said that if he wins the White House, he will not reappoint Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz as DNC chairwoman. Instead, he endorsed law professor Tim Canova, who is challenging the Florida congresswoman in that state's Democratic primary in August.
"Do I think she is the kind of chair that the Democratic Party needs? No, I don't," Sanders told CBS' "Face the Nation." "Frankly, what the Democratic Party is about is running around to rich people's homes and raising obscene sums of money from wealthy people. What we need to do is to say to working class people, 'We are on your side,'" he said.
Wasserman issued a statement saying she will remain neutral in the Democratic presidential race, despite the statements from Sanders.
Clinton has said she already considers herself the de facto nominee, and she is increasingly turning her attention to Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee. She calls him "dangerous."
Clinton, Trump in dead heat
According to the latest public opinion polls, she and Trump are locked in a virtual dead heat, with a majority of voters viewing both of them unfavorably. One poll released Sunday, The Washington Post-ABC News survey, showed Trump with a narrow edge, while an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll had Clinton with a slight lead.
Both polls showed, as other surveys have in recent days, Trump gaining ground on Clinton after becoming the presumptive Republican presidential nominee in early May.
Both polls noted that voters appear energized as much by whom they dislike as by whom they like.
Analysts say Trump's surge in political polls stems from Republican voters coalescing behind his candidacy, after many of them supported one of his rivals in state-by-state nominating contests before Trump defeated them.
Clinton remains the heavy favorite to claim the Democratic nomination on June 7, when six more states hold Democratic nominating contests.