No sooner had reports begun circulating that Russia was trying to help Bernie Sanders’s election campaign than his supporters began offering conspiracy theories about how the story had emerged on the day before the Nevada caucuses.
“The reason for this is that the Do Nothing Democrats, using disinformation Hoax number 7, don’t want Bernie Sanders to get the Democrat Nomination, and they figure this would be very bad for his chances,” said one tweet. “It’s all rigged, again, against Crazy Bernie Sanders!”
The account has pumped out a stream of invective directed at Sanders’s rivals for the nomination along with frequent praise for the Vermont senator. It all would make for a typical Bernie Bro stream of commentary were it not for the identity of the user, the man who will face the eventual Democratic nominee, President Trump.
The strategy of boosting a socialist candidate appears designed to deliver a weak opponent in the general election but is dividing Republican strategists, who see risk in the approach. Some warn that, while Sanders may scare off suburban voters, he could prove a formidable competitor in the crucial Rust Belt states that helped Trump to victory in 2016.
Brendan Steinhauser, a GOP strategist in Texas, said his circle of Republican friends included Trump skeptics who would return to the fold if Sanders was the alternative.
“I think the president thinks Bernie would be a candidate that would lose the middle or suburban women or would lose capitalists on Wall Street who tend to vote for Democrats like Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton or even Barack Obama,” he said.
“I think he’s right, but everything we thought we knew about presidential elections got turned on its head four years ago.”
Looks like Crazy Bernie is doing well in the Great State of Nevada. Biden & the rest look weak, & no way Mini Mike can restart his campaign after the worst debate performance in the history of Presidential Debates. Congratulations Bernie, & don’t let them take it away from you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 22, 2020
“I actually think he would be tougher than most of the other candidates because he is like me, but I have a much bigger base,” he said.
Aides say it is all part of an effort to focus attention on Sanders and make sure his socialist views remain under scrutiny.
But, officially, his campaign says it will defeat any candidate that emerges from the contested Democratic race.
And, on Monday, the president’s counselor Kellyanne Conway, who served as Trump’s 2016 campaign manager, said: “It doesn’t really matter. Neither one of them will be able to run against the Trump economy, the Trump deregulation.”
The mixed messaging from the president and some of his closest aides reflects concerns that Sanders might be a less predictable candidate than conventional politicians, such as Joe Biden or Michael Bloomberg. He could challenge Trump’s populist, outsider mantle and might win back the blue-collar Democrats who switched sides in 2016.
“Sometimes, you have to be careful what you wish for,” said a former White House official.
Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson is among the figures urging caution.
Although Sanders could be hammered with the socialist tag, “if Sanders pledges to forgive student loans, he’ll still win many thousands of voters who went for Donald Trump last time,” he said. “Debt is crushing an entire generation of Americans. Republicans need a plan to make it better, or they’ll be left behind.”
Recent surveys make the case for Sanders’s electability.
A Quinnipiac poll published last week has Sanders beating Trump in Michigan (48% to 43%), narrowly ahead in Pennsylvania (48% to 44%), though behind in Wisconsin (43% to 50%) but performing generally as well or better than the other contenders for the nomination.
A national poll published by CBS News puts Sanders on 47% to Trump’s 44% among registered voters.
But he still faces a major problem, according to Gallup, which polled voters last month on the desirability of a string of characteristics. Although more than 9 in 10 said they would vote for a candidate nominated by their party who happened to be black, Catholic, Jewish, Hispanic, or a woman, just one group tested received majority opposition: Only 45% of respondents said they could support a socialist.
Jeanne Zaino, professor of political science at Iona College, said: “If this thing was going to be decided in California, then Bernie would be a juggernaut, but, as soon as you get into Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio, Bernie’s platform is an easier one to beat for Donald Trump than another candidate might be.”
The post Bernie Bro in chief: Trump pumps up Sanders, hoping to run against him appeared first on Washington Examiner.