Thursday 12 March 2020

Sanders Campaign Insists Bernie Will Stay In The Race, Says Sunday’s Debate Could Change Everything

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) presidential campaign insisted, Wednesday, that despite being shellacked in Tuesday night’s Democratic primaries, the Vermont socialist will remain in the race at least through next Sunday’s debate in Phoenix, Arizona, in the hopes that Sanders’ performance there will have a dramatic effect.
Sanders himself cancelled a planned appearance Tuesday night, after losing Michigan, Missouri, and Mississippi, and only narrowly defeating former Vice President Joe Biden in North Dakota and Washington state (an outcome that could still change, as it is yet “too close to call” for a number of outlets). He refused to talk to supporters and instead returned to his home state of Vermont, where he’ll deliver an address on the future of his campaign Wednesday afternoon.
His team, though, took to cable news Tuesday night to defend Sanders’ continued presence in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, telling CNN that Sanders is hoping to take on Joe Biden directly on Sunday, and pointing out that, over the course of the 2020 primaries, debates have had a marked effect on the state of the race.
“I, for one, am extremely excited about this debate all the moderates are panicking about,” Sanders press secretary told media Tuesday night as the results rolled in. “The delegate count difference is only about 150 points out of 4051 total. America finally gets to see Biden defend his ideas, or lack there of, on Sunday.”
The problem, of course, is that neither Biden nor Sanders have performed remarkably well in the debates thus far. Sanders found himself facing down criticism over his support for dictators like Fidel Castro at one point, but only after the Nevada caucuses, when he became the race’s de-facto frontrunner. Until then, he, like his top competitor, bumbled and fumbled through the first few question and answer sessions, losing out to more seasoned debaters, like Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
But, as Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), a Sanders campaign co-chair, pointed out on CNN, the debate is all Sanders has left.
“The point now is to move forward for the issues that Senator Sanders has been fighting for,” he told CNN’s Wednesday morning news program, New Day. “There’s no doubt that the polling and momentum right now is with Vice President Biden. Senator Sanders acknowledges that.”
“But he does believe that debates in the past have changed, dramatically, the race,” Khanna added. “There are a lot of things [Sanders] is passionate about in his vision for America, and he feels he owes it to the millions of working-class people who have supported him to continue to raise those issues and share his vision.”
Working against Sanders is, unfortunately, that “working class” support. Although Sanders can turn out tens of thousands to rallies, he’s had a difficult time turning those same supporters out to the polls (just 15% of Tuesday night’s voters were under the age of 25 — Sanders’ target demographic). His outreach to African-American voters has been abysmal, and despite claims of “expanding the electorate,” it actually appears Sanders’ base of support shrunk over the last four years.

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