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Thousands Flock to Bernie Rally in Run-Up to 2020
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=44146"><span class="small">David Siders, Politico</span></a>   
Sunday, 21 October 2018 08:49

Siders writes: "Touching off a nine-state midterm election blitz here Friday, rally-goers clad in T-shirts from Sanders' 2016 campaign cheered as the independent senator from Vermont reprised his progressive credentials on student debt, health care and the minimum wage."

Bernie Sanders. (photo: Antonella Crescimbeni)
Bernie Sanders. (photo: Antonella Crescimbeni)

Thousands Flock to Bernie Rally in Run-Up to 2020

By David Siders, Politico

21 October 18

The Vermont senator rips Trump at an appearance in Bloomington, Indiana.

ernie Sanders can still draw a crowd.

Touching off a nine-state midterm election blitz here Friday, rally-goers clad in T-shirts from Sanders’ 2016 campaign cheered as the independent senator from Vermont reprised his progressive credentials on student debt, health care and the minimum wage. And they jeered along with Sanders as he mocked Trump — a prelude to a potential 2020 campaign.

“Now Trump, he’s a very, very tough guy,” Sanders told about 3,000 people in this college town. “He’s a very, very strong guy when he tears little children at the border from the arms of their mothers. What a tough guy. But he ain’t such a tough guy when he has to deal with Putin … He is not such a tough guy when he has to deal with his billionaire friends in Saudi Arabia, who just tortured and murdered a courageous journalist.”

No longer the curiosity that he was when he entered the 2016 presidential primary — with his then-meager fundraising base and Hillary Clinton’s near-inevitability staring him down — Sanders now wields one of the most coveted email lists of progressive voters and donors in the country. He owns a national profile that most of his potential rivals have yet to develop.

And while Sanders may run into a buzz-saw as early as Saturday, when he visits the less hospitable early primary state of South Carolina, he proved here Friday that he remains a popular force on the left.

The rally — and a brisk march that Sanders led from the rally to a voting center blocks away — opened Sanders’ nine-state blitz ahead of the midterms, with planned appearances in the early 2020 nominating states of Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina. But his first and last appearances, in Indiana and California later this month, are freighted with significance, as well: Sanders won the Indiana primary in an upset in 2016, and his prospects in 2020 would rely on a large delegate haul in California, where Sanders campaigned for weeks in his losing race to Clinton.

Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ 2016 campaign manager and closest political adviser, said Friday that he does not know whether Sanders will run in 2020.

But caught up in the throng of supporters surrounding Sanders as he led supporters to the voting center — with the crowd spilling from the sidewalk onto the street — Weaver said, “From my perspective, this is an auspicious start.”

By the end of his tour, Sanders will have visited 32 states since the 2016 election. He has raised about $1.8 million for fellow candidates, with that total to exceed $2 million by the end of the election cycle.

“Back in the [2016] primaries, just prior to that, people almost thought we were conspiracy theorists,” said Laurie Cestnick, a former Sanders campaign volunteer and founder of Occupy DNC Convention, which held dozens of protests during the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Now, she said, “I think the awareness [of Sanders] is just there, where it wasn’t before … I think he has a far greater chance.”

If he runs in 2020, the challenges will be stiff. In part because of Sanders’ prodding on issues ranging from health care to the minimum wage, the Democratic Party has shifted closer to his leftist profile since the 2016 election, and Sanders will almost certainly face opposition from other high-profile progressives.

“It’s a different environment for him: The landscape for progressive Democrats has shifted pretty substantially, and largely in our favor,” said Arshad Hasan, a Sanders delegate in 2016 and former executive director of the activist group Progress Now. “But that’s a double-edged sword … You’ve got Bernie, who has a much higher profile than he did four years ago. But at the same time, there’s more room” for other progressive candidates to run.

In the run-up to the 2016 election, Democracy for America was part of an unsuccessful effort to recruit Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to run for president, before ultimately endorsing Sanders. This year, Warren is poised to enter the race, and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), the only senator to endorse Sanders in 2016, is mulling a run.

While Charles Chamberlain, DFA’s current executive director, said his members’ support for Sanders is “definitely strong,” he added, “Will he be the choice of our membership for the presidential race? I think that’s an open question.”

In 2016, Chamberlain said, “It was [Sanders] versus Clinton. What we’re going to be looking at in [2020] is Bernie Sanders versus 20 other people.”

In an expansive 2020 presidential field, Sanders is likely to be squeezed not only by progressive rivals, but by many moderate Democrats who continue to keep their distance from him. Earlier this week in Indiana, Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly cut a campaign ad criticizing “socialists” and “the radical left” for positions on health care and immigration, while moderate Democrats in South Carolina, where Sanders will be on Saturday, have responded tepidly to his pre-election tour.

“If Bernie wants to run again, as he is definitely thinking about, then it’s clear that he has to approach it differently than he did the first time,” Hasan said. “I think the first time, he really kind of made it about, ‘There’s two visions of the Democratic Party: progressive and not,’ and that was kind of his singular analysis.”

Now, Hasan said, “One of the things that he’s really come to learn is that there are so many different factions and flavors of the Democratic coalition.”

In addition to the three early nominating states that Sanders will visit, his tour will take him to Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin, Arizona, Colorado and California. The last stop is critical to his 2020 chances, with Sanders’ advisers believing the weeks he spent campaigning there in a losing effort in 2016 — effectively his last stand of the primary campaign — could pay off with a large delegate haul in 2020.

Sanders has used the midterm election cycle to lay groundwork for a 2020 campaign in subtler ways, as well. In recent months, he has expanded his focus on foreign policy — a perceived weakness in 2016 — articulating his brand of progressivism not only as a domestic matter, but as a vehicle to counter authoritarianism abroad. More significantly, he has used the midterm elections to align himself with several prominent African-Americans, whose lack of support in 2016 hobbled Sanders in the South.

This year, he has supported all three African-American Democrats running for governor in November. In addition to backing Stacey Abrams in Georgia and Ben Jealous in Maryland, Sanders delivered a crucial endorsement to Andrew Gillum, now Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial nominee, when few thought Gillum could prevail in the primary.

Still, Sanders has a ways to go to overcome his landslide loss to Clinton in South Carolina and his failure to gain traction with African-American voters in the South.

Antjuan Seawright, a South Carolina-based Democratic strategist who worked for Clinton’s campaign in 2016, said he’s doubtful Sanders can significantly expand his coalition.

“With the potential of several other candidates being African-American, and there’s some talk about a possible Latino or two to also be in the race, I think that presents a real challenge for Sen. Sanders and a lot of other people who are entering the race,” he said.

Sanders has demurred when asked about his 2020 plans, telling CNN recently that “we will see what happens.” But the effort to distinguish Sanders from the rest of the burgeoning Democratic field has been ongoing since the 2016 election, with Sanders’ supporters casting his economic populism as a 2020-ready alternative to Trump’s.

Larry Cohen, a former head of the Communications Workers of America who now chairs the board of Our Revolution, a political offshoot of Sanders’ 2016 campaign, said that in 2016, “Working people weren’t feeling listened to.”

“Bernie was [listening], and Bernie is,” Cohen said. “He’s authentic, in terms of decades of saying working people matter … People may not agree with him, but they don’t doubt he means what he says.”

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+22 # opinionaire 2018-10-21 09:19
I was at the event in South Carolina, and there was a good sized crowd composed of all races and ages in attendance. There was obvious support for the issues Senator Sanders raised, including his declaration that Trump lies virtually every time he opens is mouth.
+24 # Moxa 2018-10-21 09:46
"Sanders versus 20 other people" should work to Sanders's favor. Most of these people are trying to get themselves onto the progressive bandwagon that Bernie is driving, without being truly progressive themselves. Considering what Bernie has become nationally, given the humble beginnings of his amazing trajectory, think what he can do now, now that he is at the front of the line.

I think his biggest rivals are Biden and Warren. Biden's appeal is his experience and his avuncular demeanor. I think the fact that nobody actually knows that much about him is working in his favor; but the country is looking for change, and while Biden might offer relief from the Trump malaise, he's not going to solve any fundamental problems. I think his appeal will run thin over time.

Warren is a distant second to Bernie in her progressive bona fides, while still being one of the more progressive politicians we've got. I don't think she has the force-of- nature personality or the oratorical skills needed to succeed against Trump.

Bernie is the only one who can galvanize the American people with a new vision and a new hope--a real hope that comes of true integrity and genuine concern for the good of the people.

The Democratic power structure will do whatever they can to bring him down. My bet is that that they won't succeed. And if Bernie gets the nomination, he will win the presidency.
+17 # Street Level 2018-10-21 10:42
Leadership. Bernie is the Leader we need and the only one with that capability.
+12 # tedrey 2018-10-21 10:44
Just appreciate what Bernie is doing for Progresives. He's more interested in the results than in the presidency as such. Ibelieve if a true progressive runs in 2020 Bernie won't stand in the way, and will play a major role in the administration. To let Democratic factions and aspirants smear him would be a very harmful development.
+21 # grandlakeguy 2018-10-21 10:55
+12 # Benign Observer 2018-10-21 13:15
'landslide loss'?

That's why the young, minorities and Independents -- the very people we need to achieve a blue tsunami --are the least likely to vote in the upcoming election. They can see that the establishment, including media outlets like Politico, are doing their best to deny Sanders, sabotage progressives and pretend Medicare for All isn't the easiest and most elegant solution to a host of problems in this country.

Then when they don't turn out in November those same clowns will blame the youth and say 'See? Why bother trying to cater to those voters when they don't show up?' when the reason they don't show up is because the party gives them nothing to vote for and overtly continues to cheat.

Something tells me they're going to show up for Bernie though, as the 2020 cycle gears up.

It would have been so easy for Hillary or the 2018 Democrats to co-opt Sanders' agenda -- but they're not even that smart.

Sanders won't have any competition when the race gets underway. They want to shove Biden and Harris down our throats? It's obvious the establishment didn't learn a damn thing two years ago.

I'm convinced these fools are losing on purpose -- what other explanation is there?
+15 # Blackjack 2018-10-21 13:18
Not to worry about S.C. Bernie did just fine here yesterday. The purpose of his visit (ostensibly) was to educate people about and rally support for "Medicare for All." But his supporters quickly recast that slogan into "Medicare for Y'all" and this southern crowd loved it! Bernie was fantastic, even better than when I saw him on his first visit here three years ago. And with his warm-up act, the eloquent and inspiring Nina Turner, the crowd went wild! I was fortunate to snare a front-and-cente r seat. The audience was filled with young people and the venue was packed. Through conversations with some seated near me I realized there were several from surrounding states, like N.C. and VA, who gladly came from miles away to see Bernie.

Don't put too much stock in Antjuan Seawright's assessment. Antjuan is a very nice fellow, but he is deeply embedded with the talons of the "establishment" portion of the party who have, for decades, tried to convince all of us in the state that we simply must not color outside the lines. The fact that he worked for the Clinton campaign is a good indicator of his political leanings.

Dems have built a wall around themselves, deciding that party politics as usual is the way to go. After all the wrangling with the DNC before and after the 2016 election, Bernie very wisely held onto his donor list, refusing to share it with the DNC, one reason they still deny him credibility. Bernie goes his own way. We'll see who follows.
+2 # lfeuille 2018-10-21 15:33
I think the biggest dangers to Bernie in SC are Harris and Booker. They have adapted a lot of his talking points. Their corporate support tells me they are not really as sincere in their progressivism as Bernie, but I'm afraid a lot of people just aren't aware of the connection between corporate support and policies that harm the poor and middle class. And they are black and may drain away
black support for that reason alone.
+7 # lfeuille 2018-10-21 15:39
Bernie please run. You are still the best hope for bringing a better future to the 99% in this country and for reversing policies that have led to constant war and conflict for no good reason abroad.
+3 # tedrey 2018-10-21 21:14
Thanks for the report. It's what I've been hoping for.
+7 # PCPrincess 2018-10-21 15:17
Sorry Mr. Siders from 'Politico' (in other words, a front for the DNC) - you still don't get it. If Bernie runs AND the DNC doesn't cheat, he will WIN. End of freaking story.

I have a little skill called 'empathy'. While many people have empathy in varying levels, it is those of us who have very high levels of empathy who can 'read' human beings. Trust me when I say, that Bernie can win in a landslide if no election laws are broken by the DNC, the DCCC, and the various polling locations in different states. That is where we should all be watching if we want a truly progressive President this time around. I will not stand by and let them cheat - There will be Hell to pay if they try.
+5 # DongiC 2018-10-21 15:35
I think a very large number of voters will turn out in support of Bernie Sanders. Young ones, progressive ones, females upset with Kavanaugh, fair minded ones deeply disturbed by the sneaky tricks of the DNC, and Americans who have had enough of the bluster and bullying tactics of the orange monster, Trump.
I think this will make a clear majority. So get your crying towel out Sir Donald. You are going to need it.
+5 # kundrol 2018-10-21 18:47
I would love to see Bernie for pres and Elizabeth Warren for VP. Go Bernie!
+5 # Benign Observer 2018-10-22 20:42
There are lots of hit pieces already being written about Sanders by shill outlets like WaPo (who had one day during the 2016 primaries where they released SIXTY anti-Sanders stories) and Politico, who've written some of the most egregious.

Remember to read these stories with a skeptical mind. It's only going to get worse.

Even while he's out there campaigning for Democrats the party and their media surrogates are stabbing him in the back.

They seem able to justify their most disgusting and immoral behavior, day after day.