Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) presidential campaign reportedly “signaled” Wednesday night that they may be open to ending their bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination and admitted that they are “speaking” to former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign staff.
The Washington Post reports that Sanders, whose top advisors said Wednesday morning that they were “reassessing” the senator’s chances at snagging the nomination in the interim between now and the next set of primaries three weeks from now, may be looking for a way to bow out of the contest that will preserve his impact on the race so far and his followers’ impact on the Democratic party platform.
“The next primary contest is at least three weeks away,” Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir told media in a statement Wednesday. “Sen. Sanders is going to be having conversations with supporters to assess his campaign.”
In a separate message to Sanders’ supporters, campaign aides said that Sanders was returning to Washington, D.C., to help handle the coronavirus situation, but that he and his wife, Jane, would be speaking with supporters to determine whether carrying on a doomed presidential run would be somehow beneficial.
Wednesday afternoon, the Sanders campaign suspended social media advertising, a development that was initially reported as a full campaign “suspension” — a story that was almost immediately corrected.
Perhaps the Sanders campaign’s most significant move — and the best evidence that they are considering a swift and untimely end to the Vermont socialist’s bid — was reaching out to Biden’s campaign, which they reportedly did sometime on Wednesday morning.
“Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said that aides to the two candidates have been in touch regularly to discuss the public health crisis that has gripped the country,” the Washington Post reported, “disclosing talks that could form the basis of a broader agreement on policies and might make Sanders more comfortable leaving the race.”
Not every presidential campaign, of course, simply wraps up. Sanders may want to ink a deal with Biden and the Democratic National Convention that gives Sanders a place of prominence in the Democratic party, some control over the Democratic party platform (which will be rewritten and voted on at the convention in July) and some measure of visibility.
Back in 2016, Sanders and then-likely Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton inked their own deal — a deal which reportedly included an agreement to keep Sanders’ supporters from protesting at the 2016 DNC.
“The recently released book “Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign” by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes reveals that Sanders Campaign Manager Jeff Weaver struck a deal with the Clinton campaign to keep Sanders delegates away from television cameras in order to hide the divisions in the party from audiences across the country,” the Observer reported in 2017.
Clinton also famously agreed to pay for Sanders’ private jet, so that he could attend rallies in support of Clinton’s 2016 effort.
This time around, Biden may want to make the same trade: Sanders and the Democratic socialists can have some influence over what the party stands for, if they agree not to hold massive, public protests outside the Democratic National Convention, undermining Biden’s chances at defeating President Donald Trump.