Senator Bernie Sanders is planning an eight-state blitz with at least 19 events over the final two weekends before the midterm elections, looking to rally young voters and progressives as Democrats confront daunting national headwinds.
Mr. Sanders, the Vermont senator who in many ways is the face of the American left, is beginning his push in Oregon on Oct. 27.
“It is about energizing our base and increasing voter turnout up and down the ballot,” Mr. Sanders said in an interview. “I am a little bit concerned that the energy level for young people, working-class people,” is not as high as it should be, he said. “And I want to see what I can do about that.”
The first swing will include stops in Oregon, California, Nevada (with events in both Reno and Las Vegas), Texas (including one in McAllen), and Orlando, Fla. The second weekend will focus on Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
And while Mr. Sanders will appear in battleground states where some of the most hotly contested Senate and governor’s races are playing out — Nevada, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania — it is unclear which if any of the statewide Democratic candidates that Mr. Sanders is rallying voters to support will actually appear alongside him.
Mr. Sanders maintains an impassioned core following and is one of the biggest draws on the stump for Democrats nationwide. But Republicans have used Mr. Sanders as a boogeyman in television ads in many races across the country and even some moderate Democrats have concerns that his campaigning in swing states could backfire.
Mr. Sanders brushed off a question about whether his presence on the trail might be used to attack Democratic candidates.
“They’ve already done it,” Mr. Sanders said. “They’re going to have to respond to why they don’t want to raise the minimum wage, why they want to give tax breaks to billionaires, why they want to cut Social Security. Those are the questions that I think these guys do not want to answer. And those are the questions I’m going to be raising.”
Throughout the tour, he plans to hold events with a mix of House candidates, a mayoral contender and liberal organizations in an effort to turn out core Democratic constituencies.
He plans to appear with the congressional candidates Val Hoyle of Oregon, Greg Casar and Michelle Vallejo of Texas, Maxwell Alejandro Frost of Florida and Summer Lee of Pennsylvania. He is also expected to appear with Representative Karen Bass of California, who is running for mayor of Los Angeles, according to a Sanders aide.
As part of the tour, Mr. Sanders will headline rallies organized by the progressive groups NextGen and MoveOn. He is an invited speaker at the events and it’s not clear if Democrats who are running this year will also appear.
Mr. Sanders said he planned to focus on an economic message in pitching Democrats in 2022. Asked to assess how his party was doing in selling itself to working-class voters, he replied, “I think they’re doing rather poorly.”
“It is rather amazing to me that we are in a situation right now, which I hope to change, where according to poll after poll, the American people look more favorably upon the Republicans in terms of economic issues than they do Democrats,” he said. “That is absurd.”
A top priority for Mr. Sanders this year has been electing Mandela Barnes, the Democratic Senate nominee in Wisconsin. Mr. Sanders has allowed the Barnes campaign to use his name to send out fund-raising emails, reaping at least $500,000, according to a Sanders adviser.
It is not clear if Mr. Barnes will appear alongside Mr. Sanders, who is planning at least three events in the state the weekend before the election, in Eau Claire, LaCrosse and Madison, the state capital and heart of Wisconsin’s progressive movement. A spokeswoman for Mr. Barnes declined to comment on his plans.
But when Politico reported this month that Wisconsin Democrats were planning possible events with Mr. Sanders, Matt Bennett, the co-founder of Third Way, a centrist group, wrote on Twitter: “I desperately want Barnes to win, so I ask again of his campaign: Why would you do this? Why????”
Despite the political challenges facing Democrats this year, Mr. Sanders said he was buoyed by the next generation of liberal leaders poised to come to Capitol Hill.
“When Congress convenes in January,” he said in the interview, “there are going to be more strong progressives in the Democratic caucus than in the modern history of this country.”
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