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“Bernie Has Plenty To Lose”: The Sanders Campaign Is Divided Over How It Wants To Die

The night Hillary Clinton won the New York primary, the Sanders campaign sent two radically different messages about how it planned to proceed. In an interview with the Associated Press, senior Sanders adviser Tad Devine said the campaign would “sit back and assess where we are” after the five northeastern primaries on April 26. At roughly the same time, the senator’s campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, told MSNBC that there would be nothing to assess until the superdelegates cast their official votes at the convention.

“We’re going to go to the convention,” Weaver told Steve Kornacki. “It is extremely unlikely that either candidate will have the requisite number of pledged delegates … so it is going to be an election determined by the superdelegates.”

Weaver won that argument. Bernie Sanders lost four of five states on April 26, but continued campaigning aggressively, nonetheless, arguing that a win in California – combined with his superior performance in head-to-head polls with Donald Trump – would convince superdelegates to throw the election to him in Philadelphia.

Now, with Clinton set to clinch a majority of pledged delegates when the final six states cast their primary ballots Tuesday night, the Devine-Weaver divide is resurfacing – and their boss doesn’t seem to know whose side he’s on.

On Monday night, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Sanders campaign is divided between the “Sandernistas” – longtime Bernie backers from his time in Vermont and Congress who want to rage against the dying of the light – and those with broader ties to the Democratic Party, who believe Sanders’s agenda would be best served by uniting the party against Trump. Devine, who advised Democratic nominees Al Gore and John Kerry, speaks for the latter.

“What will happen hopefully when the voting is done, our two campaigns will begin to talk once more to one another and figure out where the common ground is,” Devine told the Journal on Monday night.

Weaver, who has worked as a Sanders operative since the mid-’80s, told the paper a different story.

“The plan is as the senator has described it: to go forward after Tuesday and keep the campaign going to the convention and make the case to superdelegates that Sen. Sanders is the best chance that Democrats have to beat Trump,” Weaver said. “The trajectory is the same regardless of the outcome in California.”

In most of his recent statements, Sanders sounds more like his campaign manager. On Monday night in Los Angeles, Sanders told supporters that a win in California would give him “enormous momentum” with superdelegates going into the convention. But earlier in the day, he struck a more “Devine” note – asked about whether he would endorse Clinton before the convention, Sanders replied, “Let me just talk to you after the primary here in California where we hope to win. Let’s assess where we are after tomorrow before we make statements based on speculation.”

For Weaver, there’s no cause for such assessments. Nothing hinges on the outcome in California. But his candidate sounds less certain. And not without reason. There are a lot of powerful voices whispering into his other ear.

Over the weekend, Sanders and President Obama spoke for over 30 minutes, according to CBS News. While the content of the conversation is unknown, the president has argued that Tuesday’s results will be decisive – and has indicated that he intends to endorse Clinton well ahead of the July convention.

Meanwhile, Sanders’s sole backer in the U.S. Senate, Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley, has called on Sanders to drop out once Clinton secures a majority of pledged delegates. The Vermont senator’s Clinton-backing colleagues – along with virtually every other elected Democrat – obviously agree.

If Sanders was looking for a way to sustain his campaign past a loss in California, the Associated Press’s decision to declare Clinton the primary’s winner on Monday night may provide one justification. In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, Weaver argued that the AP’s call – which was based on a revised count of Clinton’s advantage among superdelegates – was “suppressing voter turnout in six states across the country.”

But the Vermont senator has something to lose in defying the will of the Democratic Party. Should Democrats recapture the Senate, Sanders is in line to become chair of the Budget Committee – a powerful post, especially when held by a politician with a national following and first-rate donor list. If the democratic socialist opts for political revolution over party unity, however, his colleagues could ostensibly deny him that position.

Plus, Sanders’s superdelegate strategy works a lot better as a rationale for giving Democrats in California a chance to make their preferences known than it does as a means of actually winning the nomination. Barring an FBI indictment or medical catastrophe, Democratic elites are not going to overturn the will of their voters to give the party’s nod to a man who has been a Democrat for a little over a year.

But Bernie Sanders isn’t known for being terribly sensitive to political pressure. And at least one voice in his campaign is telling him to go down swinging. We’ll know very soon how loudly all the other voices speak.

 

By: Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, June 7, 2016

June 9, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Day Of Reckoning For The Sanders Campaign”: Decision Time, To Concede Or Attempt To Disrupt The Convention

Coming off of big wins in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico this weekend, the Associated Press reports that Hillary Clinton is within 26 delegates (pledged and super) of clinching the Democratic presidential nomination. With upcoming races on Tuesday in New Jersey, California, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and New Mexico, the folks at NBC First Read summarized the situation with pledged delegates like this:

Clinton must win 30% of remaining pledged delegates to get a majority in pledged delegates

Sanders must win 70% of remaining pledged delegates to get a majority in pledged delegates

Based on previous races and current polling, it is likely that Clinton will win New Jersey and New Mexico, while Sanders will prevail in much less delegate-rich Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota. Everyone expects California to be a nail-biter. That’s why this morning Greg Sargent suggests that even a “win” in California won’t save the Sanders campaign. At the end of the day on Tuesday, he will be behind Clinton in the number of pledged delegates and – if you include superdelegates – she will have gone over the threshold of the 2,382 needed to win the nomination. His only play would be to convince a large number of superdelegates to vote against the leader in pledged delegates.

All of this means that Bernie Sanders’ day of reckoning will be this Wednesday. Either he will decide to concede that he has lost the primary, or attempt to disrupt the Democratic Convention in July. According to Peter Nicholas, that is still an unsettled discussion going on within the campaign.

A split is emerging inside the Bernie Sanders campaign over whether the senator should stand down after Tuesday’s election contests and unite behind Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, or take the fight all the way to the July party convention and try to pry the nomination from her…

Tad Devine, a senior Sanders strategist who advised Democratic nominees Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004, among others, suggested the “path forward” is uncertain, hinging on the outcome in California and other states that have yet to vote. He voiced a conciliatory note, describing how the two campaigns might set aside differences that have grown more pronounced in the heat of the year-long campaign…

Campaign manager Jeff Weaver, who has worked in Mr. Sanders’s congressional offices and Vermont-based campaigns dating to the mid-1980s, takes a more aggressive approach…

“The plan is as the senator has described it: to go forward after Tuesday and keep the campaign going to the convention and make the case to superdelegates that Sen. Sanders is the best chance that Democrats have to beat Trump,” Mr. Weaver said. “The trajectory is the same regardless of the outcome in California.”

Ultimately, the candidate himself will have to make the call. It will be up to Bernie Sanders to decide whether he continues to be a progressive voice within the Democratic Party or sidelines both himself and his supporters as disrupters.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 6, 2016

June 7, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Time To Think Less About Revolution Than Evolution”: It’s All Over But The Shouting; Hillary Clinton Crushed Bernie Sanders

Another handful of Clinton wins in big states, and the margins grow. I’m writing before the full pledged delegate count from tonight is known, but she led by 244 coming into tonight not counting super delegates and that may grow by another 30 to 40. (Here’s a great delegate calculator; bookmark it.)

As for the popular vote, she led it by a lot coming into Tuesday night: 10.4 million to 7.7 million, a nearly 2.7 million-vote difference, or 57 to 43 percent, numbers that we call a landslide in a general election. She may have added a couple hundred thousand to that margin tonight. Depending on what happens in California and New Jersey, this could end up being close to 60-40.

So forgive me for being a little confused about why these margins give Bernie Sanders such “leverage” in what we presume to be his looming negotiations with Hillary Clinton over the future of the party of which he’s not a member. It is “incumbent” upon Clinton, he told Chris Hayes Monday on MSNBC, “to tell millions of people who right now do not believe in establishment politics or establishment economics, who have serious misgivings about a candidate who has received millions of dollars from Wall Street and other special interests.”

Is there precedent for the losing candidate demanding that the winning candidate prove her bona fides to his voters? I sure can’t think of any. The most recent precedent we have for this kind of thing is 2008, a contest that of course involved Hillary Clinton. Let’s have a look at how that one wound down.

Clinton did indeed run until the end, winning states all along the way. On the last day of voting, June 3, they drew—she took South Dakota, and he won Montana. At that point, depending on what you did or didn’t count (Michigan and Florida were weird races that year after they broke the DNC calendar to move their primary dates up, and the party punished them by taking away delegates), she was actually ahead of Obama on popular votes. But even excluding Michigan, where Obama wasn’t on the ballot, it was a hell of a lot closer than 57-43. It was 51-49.

Did Clinton carry on about her campaign of the people? Did she say it was incumbent upon Obama to prove his worth to her voters? Did she put her forefinger on her cheek for weeks and make Obama twist in the wind? No, of course not.

Four days after the voting ended, she got out of the race, gave the famous 18-million-cracks-in-the-glass-ceiling speech, and said: “The way to continue our fight now, to accomplish the goals for which we stand is to take our energy, our passion, our strength, and do all we can to help elect Barack Obama, the next president of the United States. Today, as I suspend my campaign, I congratulate him on the victory he has won and the extraordinary race he has run. I endorse him and throw my full support behind him. And I ask all of you to join me in working as hard for Barack Obama as you have for me. I have served in the Senate with him for four years. I have been in this campaign with him for 16 months. I have stood on the stage and gone toe-to-toe with him in 22 debates. I’ve had a front-row seat to his candidacy, and I have seen his strength and determination, his grace and his grit. In his own life, Barack Obama has lived the American dream…” and so on. She laid it on thick, and gave a strong and gracious convention speech later.

Now granted, it’s not June. There’s plenty of time for this to wind down civilly. It was a good sign that Tad Devine ++told The New York Times Tuesday afternoon++  that Sanders would “reassess” things Wednesday morning. Of course, that was Devine talking—the only one of Sanders’s top crew who is actually a Democrat and who has to mend fences to eat lunch in this town. At the same time that Devine was speaking these conciliatory words, the Sanders camp sent out a cheeky, we’re-not-done-yet fund-raising solicitation featuring a photo of Bill and Hill at the Donald’s wedding.

So the signals from Sanders-world are mixed. One thing’s for sure: There is no expectation that Sanders will behave like Clinton did in 2008. It’s worth examining why.

On the one hand, it’s understandable. He’s not a Democrat, so party loyalty isn’t a thing here. And the main thing is that the ideological differences between Sanders and Clinton are greater than between Clinton and Obama, or John Edwards and John Kerry, or Bill Bradley and Al Gore. The people voting for Bernie are voting to reject Hillary’s politics in a more fundamental way than the people voting for Bradley were rejecting Gore.

On the other hand… the media’s expectations of these people hinges so greatly on the personality types they establish, and that the media just accept them. No one expects Sanders to be a team player because he’s a guy (emphasis on guy) who has always agitated outside the system. Whereas everyone expects Clinton to behave properly because she’s a woman (emphasis on woman) who has always been the type to do what’s expected of her.

If this were two men, the onus would clearly be on the one who’s behind to play ball and do the responsible thing. But I can’t help suspecting that the media are going to put the weight on her in these next few weeks: Will Hillary accept Bernie’s conditions?

She shouldn’t accept conditions. But she absolutely should take steps to mollify his voters. She’s going to have to. However, she should do it like someone who’s ahead 57-43 should do it. She should say: Sure, I’ll adopt a couple of your positions. But I have a couple of conditions of my own. If I hear the words “Goldman” and “Sachs” coming out of your mouth one more time, if I see any more fund-raising appeals that paint me as the harlot of Wall Street, the deal is dead, and I’ll call Chuck Schumer and make sure that you don’t chair the Budget Committee if we retake the Senate, but instead you have the post-office renaming subcommittee. And I may drop some of that oppo I have on you that I’ve never used. You know the stuff I mean.

Sanders should run to the end. He owes it to his backers in California and New Jersey to give them a chance to vote for him. I don’t know anyone who says otherwise. But it’s now time for him to think about his future, and the future of the influence his movement will have in the Democratic Party.

I want that movement to have influence. There are a lot of people like me, who think Clinton is the stronger candidate, but want Sanders to have some influence over her. And to us, it looks like it’s time for him to think less about revolution than evolution.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, April 27, 2016

April 28, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic Presidential Primaries, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Bernie Sanders’s Superdelegate Hypocrisy”: What Are Sanders’s Real Metrics For Political Success?

For months, superdelegates, or unelected representatives of the Democratic Party who have votes at the nominating convention, have loomed large as a force in the presidential primary. Hillary Clinton has dominated Bernie Sanders in “committed” superdelegates (though they can always change their vote), and Sanders and his supporters are vocal about the uphill battle they’ve faced as a result of the Democratic establishment’s pro-Clinton bias.

Superdelegates aren’t small-d “democratic.” They aren’t bound to represent the will of their state’s Democrats, and in this primary season especially, many chose a candidate to support before their state’s voters even indicated their own preferences.

Still, superdelegates know that voters see them as undemocratic: in 2008, as it became clear Barack Obama would beat Hillary Clinton, superdelegates supporting Clinton switched their vote to support him in order to keep the party united. There’s no winning a general election if you defy the will of the people.

Which is why it’s especially rich that Bernie Sanders’s campaign has begun recruiting superdelegates to challenge Clinton’s increasingly large lead.

After Sanders’s huge wins in Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii on Saturday, he went on television to make his case.

“A lot of these superdelegates may rethink their position with Hillary Clinton,” he said on CNN. After such large states had supported him in such large numbers, he went on, they should re-evaluate their allegiance.

In an interview for the Washington Post, Sanders advisor Tad Devine told Greg Sargent that “Sanders would call for this [superdelegate] switch if Sanders trailed in the popular vote and was very close behind in the pledged delegate count, too.”

But in November, Devine told the Associated Press that “The best way to win support from superdelegates is to win support from voters.”

Now who’s being undemocratic?

I support Sanders’s campaign for president. But more than that, I support the “revolution” of newly-politically engaged primary and general election voters he claimed would transform American politics into a fairer arena. If such a revolution fails to win the majority of democratically-elected delegates, and even fails to win the majority of the popular vote, how can it be said to be a revolution at all?

There’s a case to be made that Clinton’s early advantage in committed superdelegate support may have discouraged would-be Sanders supporters from voting for him, but that doesn’t seem likely: First, Sanders and Clinton have long been the only two viable Democratic candidates, so why wouldn’t primary voters choose Sanders even if they knew about Clinton’s superdelegate lead? And also, as the “anti-establishment” candidate of the pair, Sanders’s populist support has more often than not been emphasized by Clinton’s superdelegate support, not undermined by it.

The question then is: what are Sanders’s real metrics for political success? If he continues with his current delegate strategy, it seems popular support isn’t one of them.

 

By: Matt Shuham, The National Memo, March 28, 2016

March 29, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton, Super Delegates | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Bernie Sanders’s New Plans To Win The Nomination”: Convince The Corrupt Establishment That He’s Their Man

After a less-than-super Tuesday, Bernie Sanders’s campaign faces a virtually insurmountable deficit in pledged delegates. With her blowout wins in Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio — and narrow victories in Illinois and Missouri — Clinton could lose the vast majority of remaining states and still earn the nomination. But to keep his political revolution churning as the primary shifts to friendlier pastures, Sanders needs to offer his supporters and donors some vision for how a come-from-behind win could come about.

The best one his campaign has come up with is … not great. According to Politico, Sanders’s plan is to get as close in the race for pledged delegates as possible, and then convince the very Establishment that he’s been disparaging for months to override the consensus of voters and throw the primary to a socialist insurgent.

“The arguments that we’re going to muster are going to be based on a series of facts,” Sanders campaign manager Tad Devine told Politico (emphasis ours). “People will look at different measures: How many votes did you get? How many delegates did you win? How many states did you win? But it’s really about momentum.”

The Sanders campaign is not explicitly calling for superdelegates to negate the democratic will — a notion that it recently condemned. But Devine’s emphasis on momentum implies as much. Sanders has little chance of overcoming the delegate advantage that Clinton wracked up in her southern landslides, but he has a decent shot of winning more states than the front-runner between now and the nomination. Which is why, in Devine’s view, “it’s really about momentum.”

It seems doubtful that Sanders has genuine faith in this cockamamie scheme. The superdelegate system pretty much exists to prevent the nomination of someone like Sanders, a socialist insurgent looking to chase the money lenders from the Democratic temple.

Most likely, his campaign is merely looking for any narrative that can keep its supporters mobilized from here to the convention. Even if Sanders isn’t going to be the Democratic nominee, his political revolution has plenty to gain in collecting as many delegates as it possibly can. Sanders’s surprising strength in the race thus far — and, in particular, his dominance among millennial voters — has led many pundits to predict that his social-democratic vision represents the future of the Democratic Party. The next month of primary contests looks like the most Sanders-friendly stretch of the race thus far. According to FiveThirtyEight’s demographic projections, Sanders is favored to win seven of the next eight primaries or caucuses. If Sanders wishes to demonstrate the broad appeal of his ideology, there’s little sense in dropping out with those potential victories still on the table. Thanks to his campaign’s incredible fund-raising apparatus, the democratic socialist should have plenty of cash to keep fighting, even if donations slow down in the wake of last night’s losses.

Sanders is not going to convince the Democratic Party’s elders to back the candidate with fewer pledged delegates and Establishment connections. But suggesting that such a thing might be possible will allow him to send a louder message to the party’s younger politicians and operatives: Economic populism works. Clinton, for one, seems to have heard that message quite clearly.

 

By: Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, March 16, 2016

March 20, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic Establishment, Democratic Presidential Primaries, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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