Sanders Gets Short with Reporters As Campaign Reaches Likely End
“I’m dealing with a f***ing global crisis.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I–Vt., was uncharacteristically short when CNN Reporter Manu Raju grilled him on a timeline for folding his presidential race. The Democratic candidate now faces the stark realization that his second campaign will end in failure. Whether it was that inevitability or the pressure of emergency legislation in the Senate, Sanders was not in the mood to discuss anything beyond his congressional duties.
“Right now I’m trying to do my best to make sure that we don’t have an economic meltdown and that people don’t die,” he told Raju. “Is that enough for you to keep me busy for today?”
Sanders is justified to feel dejected and even angry at the turn of events. A month ago, he was on a sure path to victory, nearly reaching the coveted spot once stolen from him in favor of Hillary Clinton. Sure, there was the coronavirus at that point, too, but the full economic effects of it were still only theoretical. Businesses had yet to close, employees still commuted to work, and airlines weren’t begging for bailouts.
Now, President Donald Trump has gone from calling criticism of his Covid-19 response a hoax to advocating for checks mailed to every American as a stimulus. Suddenly the panic is real in Washington. Unfortunately for Sanders, the timing of Covid-19 happened to coincide with his campaign’s downward trajectory. Perhaps the pressure is just too much for the senator and the cracks are starting to show. It’s not every day you have a presidential candidate and dignified senator sprinkle profanity at a press conference, after all.
At some point in the very near future, Sanders will have to make the call to officially drop out of the race, Dan Merica and Eric Brander argued for CNN. Sure, he’s been in the place before and Sanders has ridden the ride until its conclusion at the Democratic National Convention. But what did that accomplish?
Bearing Blame for 2016
Hillary Clinton placed some of the blame for her loss on Sanders’ continued attacks during the primary campaign. In her book, What Happened, the former secretary of state offered her analysis of why she failed. In fact, the only other figures she blamed as much as Sanders were Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and former FBI Director James Comey.
Sanders, she said, not only overstayed his welcome in the Democratic primary, but also used disparaging remarks and “impugning my character.” Suffice to say, there wasn’t much love for Sanders, who won some key states like Michigan, which Trump ultimately flipped to red in the general election. Clinton has continued to occasionally surface this year to comment on Sanders, most recently declaring him a weaker candidate than former vice President Joe Biden.
The writing was on the wall after Super Tuesday, but following three primaries this week (all of which went to Biden), that writing is now written in paint. Sanders trails Biden in the delegate count 772 to 1,086. Due to the rules of Democratic primaries, the chance of Sanders securing the required 1,219 more delegates is virtually nonexistent because delegates are divided proportionally according to the percentage of the vote.
“In order to close the delegate deficit he faces, Senator Sanders would need to win every remaining contest by roughly 40 points,” said Kate Bedingfield, deputy campaign manager for Biden.
Time for Reflection
Sanders and his wife, Jane, returned to his home state of Vermont on Thursday where he will deliberate about the next steps for his campaign.
“Once there, they’ll begin holding conversations with supporters to get input and assess the path forward for our campaign,” said Faiz Shakir, campaign manager for Sanders.
Already, the campaign has suspended practically all advertising in the wake of unfavorable results on Tuesday. Both Biden and Sanders may be keen to have the senator step aside to devote the rest of the year to removing Trump.
“The math becomes virtually impossible and at that point nobody wants to look like they are stopping us from getting rid of an existential threat in the White House,” said Terry McAuliffe, former Virginia governor and Biden supporter.
For his part, Sanders denied a decision has already been made.
“We are assessing the state of our campaign,” he said on Wednesday. “There’s not going to be an election for another three weeks. We are talking to our supporters. Anybody who suggests that at this point we are ending the campaign is not telling the truth.”
The president also had some words for the Democratic candidates.
“The DNC will have gotten their fondest wish and defeated Bernie Sanders, far ahead of schedule. Now they are doing everything possible to be nice to him in order to keep his supporters. Bernie has given up, just like he did last time. He will be dropping out soon! MAGA/KAG,” Trump tweeted. “Now the Democrats have a mentally unstable man as their top dog! Think about it, that is the best that the Dems have to offer! Sad!!! Sleepy Joe will get slaughtered in Nov 2020 by Trump!”
After a primary season that began with over 20 candidates from a wide range of experience levels, ethnic backgrounds, and age ranges, it is now perfectly clear who the nominee will be and he was in front of us the whole time. Biden, the establishment favorite, will need the entire Democratic Party behind him to defeat Trump. The president has a broad base, flamboyant style, and ability to incite his supporters with bombastic speeches.
There is simply no room left for Sanders to maneuver his way to victory. If he his serious about defeating Trump, he will devote his efforts to electing Biden and bring his supporters in line. Have we seen the last of Sanders? He will be 83 years old for the 2024 election and has already suffered one heart attack, but if Trump has proven anything, it is that anyone can become president.