WASHINGTON — A man whose trollish past got him fired from Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign last year is dragging the campaign into controversy once again.
Matt Orfalea, who is no longer affiliated with the campaign, posted a video of himself Sunday night placing phone calls to potential Joe Biden supporters and strongly hinting that the former vice president has dementia.
The video has since been made private, but in a clip of it recorded and posted on Twitter, Orfalea explained that he did not try to convince anyone that Biden has dementia, but merely that other people would attack Biden as having dementia.
“Some people might try to smear Joe as having dementia, but the facts are that he only forgot that he was running for president briefly,” Orfalea says to the camera. “It was odd that he was running for president and he forgot that he's running for president while giving a presidential campaign speech.”
“I want everybody to know that he eventually, later, remembered that he was running for president. So that's OK. That's good,” Orfalea continued.
Orfalea was apparently referring to a speech Biden delivered in South Carolina in which he mistakenly said he is running for Senate and “if you don't like me, you can vote for the other Biden.”
The YouTuber was called out by the Biden campaign’s digital director, Rob Flaherty, who tweeted that Orfalea was using the campaign’s digital phone-banking tool to make the calls. Flaherty wrote, “We’ll cut him off in a little bit, but I figured it’s worth everyone seeing this stuff in action.”
Flaherty also posted a screenshot of a January tweet from Jane Sanders, Bernie Sanders’ wife, praising a video Orfalea had made. Flaherty said Orfalea is no longer with the campaign but does “seem to still have a special place in their hearts.”
Orfalea was briefly courted by the Sanders campaign after posting a pro-Sanders video that went viral. Yet the job offer was rescinded after a past offensive video he had made manipulating and sexualizing Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech came to the campaign’s attention.
The mini-controversy is just the latest example of prominent Sanders supporters failing to heed the candidate’s advice to act respectfully and not make personal attacks on Biden.
Cover: Independent Videomaker, Matt Orfalea, 34, became a supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders over the past few years, and starting making videos touting his candidacy. (Photo by Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images)