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Hillary Clinton "not even sure" Bernie Sanders is a Democrat

Bernie Sanders rides a wave of momentum to wi... 13:57

Shortly after Bernie Sanders handily beat Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin's Democratic primary Tuesday night, Clinton is out with questions about whether her rival, an independent senator from Vermont, was truly committed to the party.

When asked Wednesday if Clinton believed her rival was a Democrat, the former secretary of state said: "I think that he himself doesn't consider himself to be a Democrat."

"But it's up to the Democratic primary voters to make that assessment," Clinton told MSNBC. "I've been in the trenches for a long time and I believe in electing Democrats up and down the ticket. I want to see the United States Senate move back into Democratic hands."

She also hit Sanders on his recent meeting with the New York Daily News editorial board, which Clinton criticized as evidence of her rival's lack of practical strategy to deliver on his campaign promises.

Bernie Sanders takes Wisconsin 01:47

"I think the interview really raised a lot of serious questions, and I look at it this way -- the core of his campaign has been break up banks and it didn't seem in reading his answers that he understood exactly how that would work under Dodd-Frank, and exactly who would be responsible, what the criteria were," she said. "That means you can't really help people, if you don't know how to do what you are campaigning on saying you want to do."

In a separate interview with Politico's Glenn Thrush, conducted April 1 but released Wednesday, Clinton called her opponent "a relatively new Democrat."

"In fact, I'm not even sure he is one," she told Thrush. "He's running as one. So I don't know quite how to characterize him. I'll leave that to him."

She added: "I don't know where he is on the spectrum, but I can tell you where I am."

In that same Politico interview, Clinton expressed frustration that the Sanders campaign is misleading voters on her policy record.

"There is a persistent, organized effort to misrepresent my record, and I don't appreciate that," the former New York senator said, pointing to the recent dustup over her campaign taking donations from oil and fossil fuel industries. "I feel sorry for a lot of the young people who are fed this list of misrepresentations."

But while Clinton is looking to halt Sanders' momentum with a win in New York's April 19 primary, some in the party are cautioning against her tactics.

David Axelrod, a Democratic strategist and Obama campaign veteran, warned in a CNN interview that Clinton shouldn't rely on such attacks on the young voters drawn to his campaign.

"One thing I would stay away from, I would stay away from the insinuation that these young people who are inspired by Bernie Sanders are dupes and they are being fed misinformation and that is why they are enthusiastic about Bernie Sanders," Axelrod said Wednesday.

"These kind of things I'm sure irritate her," he said. "The notion that she is a pawn of the oil and the fossil fuel industry when she's fought for climate change -- it irritates her."

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