Former Vice President Joe Biden’s top competition for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), is privately expressing concerns that Biden is about to blow his chances at winning the 2020 presidential campaign — and unless Biden makes some big changes, Sanders is worried that progressives, who’ve committed to backing Biden’s bid, will jump ship.
The Washington Post reports that Sanders has “told associates that Biden is at serious risk of coming up short in the November election if he continues his vaguer, more centrist approach, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive talks.”
Sanders is chiefly concerned that the younger, more progressive wing of the party isn’t getting the attention “it deserves,” per The Washington Post, and that Biden has sacrificed the future of the party — Democratic socialists and far-left Millennial and Generation Z voters — in order to win a larger percentage of the electorate.
Sanders would prefer, sources tell The Washington Post, that Biden tack left in the last few weeks before the election.
“The senator has identified several specific changes he’d like to see,” the outlet notes, “saying Biden should talk more about health care and about his economic plans, and should campaign more with figures popular among young liberals, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).”
Biden has been purposefully avoiding Ocasio-Cortez and other more progressive Democrats, largely because the progressive agenda doesn’t play well with the demographic segments Biden needs to recover from President Donald Trump in order to win in battleground states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania — and far-left ideas are still new to voters in other, newer swing states like Arizona and Nevada.
The strategy is, of course, noticeable: Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), have both tacked right since being confirmed as the 2020 Democratic presidential ticket. Neither has expressed outright support even for positions that younger, more liberal Democrats see as top priorities, like defunding and disbanding police departments and committing significant resources to racial justice. Neither has expressed a willingness to replace the current Affordable Care Act with a more comprehensive “Medicare-for-All” type system, and Biden seems to echo Trump, not Sanders, on issues like trade, infrastructure, and manufacturing.
Sanders may not be the right person to give advice, regardless, as he commanded a smaller percentage of the primary electorate in 2019-2020 than he did in 2016, drawing fewer voters overall — though he did succeed in some early contests where the Democratic field was particularly crowded.
As for Biden’s willingness to listen to Sanders, it seems, according to Sanders’ team, that they’ve largely decided to ignore Sanders’ suggestions.
“Senator Sanders is confident that Joe Biden is in a very strong position to win this election, but nevertheless feels there are areas the campaign can continue to improve upon,” a Sanders spokesperson told media. “He has been in direct contact with the Biden team and has urged them to put more emphasis on how they will raise wages, create millions of good paying jobs, lower the cost of prescription drugs and expand health care coverage.”
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