When the Senate impeachment trial finally begins, senators who are running for the Democratic presidential nomination will face a unique quandry: how will they manage the grueling pace and endless demands of a pre-primary campaign while serving, daily, in the U.S. Senate during proceedings, as required by the Constitution?
Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) team thinks they may have hit on a solution, according to a report from NBC News, but it involves a very…un-socialist…form of transportation: chartered private jets.
According to NBC News, high-level staffers on the Sanders campaign believe that Sanders can keep up his breakneck pace of speeches and rallies ahead of the early-state primaries and caucuses if he shuttles back and forth between Washington D.C. during the day, when the Senate is in session, and key locations in early primary states for events at night.
To do that, though, he’ll need to spend some of the $35 million in campaign cash he has on hand, chartering private jets to avoid the hassle of commerical flights that may be scheduled at the wrong time or simply unavailable.
“Sanders’ war chest, including his field-leading $34.5 million haul in the last quarter of 2019, allows him flexibility that other contenders can’t match — including the use of private jets to ferry him back and forth for late rallies in early states,” NBC News reports.
“They’re not going to be meeting at night [for the trial], so we can obviously fly from D.C. to states and hold events in the evening and fly back, you know, so he can be back in the morning to do his work in the Senate,” his campaign told the network. “He’s an energetic candidate. He has a very vigorous schedule, and, you know, he can do that.”
He can, even according to the FEC, which says campaign travel is a legitimate use of campaign resources, but the question, of course, is whether he should.
It’s a bright idea, and it would certainly give him a leg up on other contenders for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination who can’t afford to jet back and forth from Washington, D.C., to Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, where Sanders is a top-three competitor.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), for example, would have to stay in D.C., or risk blowing their entire remaining war chest on travel. Warren’s fundraising took a 10% drop in the fourth quarter (along with her poll numbers) and Booker’s campaign has been scraping bottom since it launched back in the first quarter of 2019. Both would be forced to send surrogates out onto the trail, or do event long-distance.
It would also keep Sanders competitive against candidates who don’t have the same burdens, like former Vice President Joe Biden and former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg, and upstarts like former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, and tech mogul Andrew Yang — both of whom had better-than-expected fourth quarter fundraising numbers.
But Sanders is running as a “Democratic socialist,” and certainly jetting cross-country on a private plane isn’t going to bolster that image, especially for a man who now ranks among the millionaires and owns three houses.