The managers of the Democrats' top two 2016 presidential campaigns can't seem to agree on whether the party is united as the Democratic National Committee gathers this weekend to elect its new chair.
During an interview Friday on MSNBC, Hillary Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook refused to weigh in on the chairman's race, which is one of the most competitive in recent history. Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, praised Rep. Keith Ellison, a progressive favorite whom Sanders has endorsed, and warned that the other front-runner, former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, is unhealthy for the party.
The two agreed that the party has made gains in reparing the divide created during the primaries, fueled by an often tense rivalry between Clinton and Sanders, who ran a suprising competitive campaign. Sanders endorsed Clinton over the summer in an effort to bring their supporters together.
"We have an opportunity to continue that with the Keith Ellison as chairman," said Weaver.
Perez, who has the support of some fellow Obama administration officials, including former Vice President Joe Biden and former Attorney General Eric Holder, is an "insider" candidate, Weaver said. He said the election of Perez would send a "horrible message" to the millions of people who want more direct control over their party.
"I think those of us who want to see the democratic party successful, want to see those people come into the party, new energy in the party, new voters in the party," Weaver said. "And I understand that's an intimidating thing for some people who have been on the inside for a while. But that's what's got to be done."
He added: "I'm very afraid what comes out of this meeting could really harm the unity that, in fact, Robby and I worked very hard to create."
Mook took issue with that point, opining that there are "fantastic" candidates for chair, without naming names, and said the party is united against a common foe: President Trump.
"I don't actually think our party is divided right now," he said. "I think we're pretty united. We're pretty united that Donald Trump ran a campaign promising jobs and opportunities and all he's done is divide people."
Keeping people motivated through grassroots efforts like protests and confronting lawmakers at town hals, Mook continued, will help keep the party focused on their goals.