The democratic socialist octogenarian Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) could defeat President Trump in 2020, says Republican strategist Karl Rove.
Speaking with "Fox & Friends" on Friday, the man who helped propel President George W. Bush to the White House said Sen. Sanders' appearance on a Fox News town hall this week convinced him that the 77-year-old could defeat Trump in the general election, reports Fox News.
Rove said that Sanders made the right call by going on Fox News, flouting DNC chair Tom Perez's decision to blackball Fox News from hosting Democratic presidential primary debates.
"That was a smart move on his part," Rove said, later adding that Sanders has learned from previous mistakes. "He is a lot more fluid."
Rove noted that Sanders made smart pivots to issues he wanted to discuss when anchors Martha MacCallum and Bret Baier pressed him about his taxes, which showed him clearly to be among Sanders' own dreaded "one percent."
"He says, 'I paid all the taxes I owe,' and he quickly pivots and says, 'I released 10 years of tax returns, President Trump ought to do the same,'" Rove said on Fox News. "Martha says, 'You know, here’s Mayor Pete, he says there should be a new generation of leadership. You will be 79 if you’re sworn in as president.' He makes a joke. He says, 'It’s a fair question.' He says, 'It’s not whether you’re young or old, it’s what you believe.'"
"Every time he brought it back to his message," Rove continued. "That demonstrated to me that he has learned from having run before. He really did a good job of softening the edges of socialism. Whenever the issue came up, he made it feel warm and fuzzy, kumbaya, shake hands, run around the campfire."
The GOP strategist said that Sanders could have a winning ticket if he simply pushes his own message and does not spend his whole campaign bashing President Trump. Rove even said that Trump's campaign already sees Bernie as a formidable opponent.
"Some of the Trump campaign people said, ‘You know what? We’re paying attention to this guy," Rove said. "'We’ve got to take him seriously.'"
Rove is not the only mainstream Republican to see Bernie as a potential 2020 threat. Just this week, former Trump enthusiast Ann Coulter said she would vote for Bernie so long as he became more hardline on immigration, a position he once held.
"If he went back to his original position, which is the pro-blue-collar position. I mean, it totally makes sense with him," Coulter said on PBS. "If he went back to that position, I’d vote for him. I might work for him. I don’t care about the rest of the socialist stuff. Just — can we do something for ordinary Americans?"
Earlier this month, Sanders rejected the prospect of open borders, saying the United States should not take in more poor people when it cannot take care of its own. "What we need is comprehensive immigration reform," Sanders said. "If you open the borders, my God, there's a lot of poverty in this world, and you're going to have people from all over the world. And I don't think that's something that we can do, at this point. Can't do it. So that is not my position."