Though there’s plenty of time between now and when the primaries start for Sanders to regain ground, recent interviews and tweets indicate the pressure is starting to get to him.
After months of campaigning and coming in second place in most presidential polls second to only Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has started to see his numbers slipping. In fact, over the last several weeks Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has either made it even or overtaken Sanders’s second place standing in some polls.
As Fuzzy noted last month, once Sanders began to notice his numbers sliding, he started cozying up to fellow socialist and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), because the perception in Democratic circles is that an endorsement from the freshman Congresswoman would be a feather in the caps of many of the presidential contenders.
Well that didn’t work, because she’s made it clear she isn’t ready to endorse just yet. And as Sanders’s numbers continue their downward spiral, he is desperately searching for answers and making rambling excuses for why his campaign appears to have fallen off track.
On Wednesday night, Sanders told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that he believes the reason Warren is surging ahead of him might be, in part, because she’s a woman:
“Well, I think we are running against a lot of problems,” Sanders, who represents Vermont, told CNN host Chris Cuomo.
“I think that there are a certain number of people who would like to see a woman elected, and I understand that,” the senator said. “There are people who would like to see somebody who was younger, and I understand that also. There are a lot of factors out there.”
Sanders also insisted on Thursday that he and Warren are friends, and that they planned to run a campaign based on political issues.
“Elizabeth is a friend of mine, I think she’s running a good campaign,” the senator said. “But at the end of the day, Chris, whether it’s Biden or Warren, Elizabeth Warren, or anybody else, what I believe is that in fact I am the strongest candidate to defeat Donald Trump, and I think some of the polling shows that,” he asserted.
Sanders, who some view as Warren’s ideological twin, also posted this tweet on Wednesday. Some speculated it might be a shot at Warren’s campaign:
The cat is out of the bag. The corporate wing of the Democratic Party is publicly "anybody but Bernie." They know our progressive agenda of Medicare for All, breaking up big banks, taking on drug companies and raising wages is the real threat to the billionaire class. https://t.co/zimci7JRO6
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) June 19, 2019
He clarified later on Cuomo’s program that Warren was not the target of his ire in that tweet:
But Sanders himself says the tweet wasn’t a dig, at least not at Warren.
“That tweet was not about Elizabeth Warren at all,” he told CNN’s Chris Cuomo in an interview Wednesday night. “Not at all. Elizabeth is a friend of mine and we’re going to run, I hope, what are simply issue-oriented campaigns.”
Instead, Sanders said the tweet was a “very strong statement” about the self-described “center-left” think tank Third Way, who he called a “Wall Street-funded group” that had been willing to support any Democrat but him. Additionally, Sanders questioned the centrist group’s allegiances in the 2020 general election if he were the nominee.
Watch the segment below:
Leaving aside the fact that Sanders’s suggestion that one reason for Warren’s momentum might be because she is a woman has caused some indignant feminists to reach for the fainting couch, I believe one big reason Warren’s numbers are rising is because the amount of favorable coverage she’s received in recent weeks.
Female Democratic strategists and commentators like Alexis Grenell and politicos like Ocasio-Cortez and others began complaining in mid-March about what they believed was a lack of equal-time favorable coverage being given to Warren in comparison to Biden, Sanders, and Beto O’Rourke at a time when Biden had not even yet entered the race and at a time O’Rourke had only been in the race for a few weeks.
As the complaints continued, the media dutifully signaled that it got the message. Not long after, we started seeing Warren’s campaign and trillion-dollar policy ideas painted in flattering lights. To be fair, she’s traveled to a lot of different states to make her case, but the shift in media coverage certainly has not hurt her.
It also hasn’t hurt her that the more Sanders appears on TV for interviews, the more he comes across as the “angry old man” candidate in contrast to the rest of the field.
One thing Sanders has in his favor, however, is recent polling that suggests picking a minority candidate is not on the top of the list of priorities for Democratic voters. Rather, they’re looking for someone they believe can defeat Trump which, in their eyes, may or may not be a woman. Their base voters have been consistent on the “electability” factor going back several months now.
Of course, polling numbers tend to fluctuate wildly in the months leading up to the start of primaries, and there’s plenty of time between now and January for all candidates including Sanders to gain ground. But recent interviews and tweets indicate the pressure is starting to get to him.
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
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