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Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders expresses concerns about Biden campaign – The Washington Post

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is privately expressing concerns about Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, according to three people with knowledge of the conversations, and is urging Biden’s team to intensify its focus on pocketbook issues and appeals to liberal voters.

Sanders, the runner-up to Biden in the Democratic primaries, 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.

The senator has identified several specific changes he’d like to see, 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-N.Y.).

Asked for comment, Sanders’s team provided a statement from Faiz Shakir, the senator’s campaign manager in the presidential race, saying that Sanders is “working as hard as he can” to get Biden elected but has advised some strategic adjustments.

“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,” Shakir said. “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.”

Shakir said Sanders “also thinks that a stronger outreach to young people, the Latino community and the progressive movement will be of real help to the campaign.”

The Biden campaign declined to comment.

Sanders led a surging liberal faction during the Democratic primaries and scored early successes in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada before ultimately falling short. His critique of Biden’s approach reflects his status as a longtime stalwart of the party’s left and a self-described democratic socialist.

But it is rare for such a prominent party figure to repeatedly voice private criticisms of the party’s nominee and acknowledge them publicly, especially in the campaign’s final stretch. Sanders’s decision to do so suggests the ongoing frustration among liberals, who urgently want Biden to defeat President Trump but are upset that he has taken a relatively centrist path.

Biden is determined not to play into attacks from Trump seeking to cast him as a radical or a socialist. The nominee has distanced himself from elements in his party calling for defunding the police, implementing a single-payer health plan and banning hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Sanders supports the latter two policies.

Still, Sanders has worked hard publicly in support of Biden, and Democrats are eager to avoid a repeat of the division between the senator and Hillary Clinton that hurt the party in 2016. On Saturday, Sanders hosted a virtual town hall — his eighth such event — in which he urged Michigan voters to support Biden. But he also said it was important to continue fighting for progressive values, at times acknowledging that he did not think the Democratic nominee was going far enough on those issues.

But Sanders contends that Democrats have the best chance of winning if they stress economic populism, those close to him said, rather than if they embrace a sole strategy of attacking Trump and avoiding hot-button issues.

Until now, there had been few outward signs of discord between Biden and Sanders. Shortly after the senator ended his campaign in April, he promptly endorsed Biden, offering unequivocal approval.

Associates of both men say they personally like each other, having been Senate colleagues. After Biden emerged as the presumptive presidential nominee, the two formed a number of task forces, made up of allies of both men, that crafted policy recommendations on health care, climate change and other topics.

In some ways, Biden has moved closer to Sanders’s brand of populism as left-leaning activism has surged inside and outside the Democratic Party. He has spoken of a Franklin D. Roosevelt-style presidency if he wins and urged sweeping change to combat the novel coronavirus, racism and other challenges.

But Sanders has come to worry about the Biden campaign’s prospects, even as the Democratic nominee leads Trump in national polls, associates said. Surveys in some potentially pivotal states show a closer race between Biden and Trump, stoking nervousness among Democrats still traumatized by Clinton’s 2016 defeat.

The people familiar with Sanders’s private conversations said he has expressed a sentiment that the liberal, millennial slice of the party has not received the attention it merits. As a candidate, Sanders drew big crowds of hundreds — sometimes thousands — of young, enthusiastic people with left-leaning views.

Another Sanders concern, according to one of the people, is that the Biden campaign has kept its distance from some of the marquee surrogates who campaigned for Sanders and helped him attract a large following. Ocasio-Cortez, for example, has not campaigned closely with Biden.

As a candidate, Sanders frequently emphasized his economic plans, which were geared toward curtailing wealthy and powerful interests and championing working-class people. Biden has recently been touting his “Build Back Better” plan, which calls for immense new investments in American jobs and industry.

And in questioning Biden’s outreach to Latino voters, among whom Sanders showed strength in the primaries, the senator is touching on a topic that is increasingly on the minds of Democratic leaders.

Polls have shown Biden leading Trump among Latinos but not as widely as many Democrats hoped. As a result, fretful discussions are underway in the party about Biden’s standing with Latino voters in battleground states such as Florida, Arizona, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, where Latinos could play a pivotal role in the outcome.

Amy B Wang contributed to this report.

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Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders promised to go all in for Biden. Here’s what that looks like – CNN

(CNN)Bernie Sanders loves the campaign trail. He wants to be “running around the country” hosting rallies, organizing canvasses and leading marches to the polls.

But as the coronavirus pandemic rages on, the Vermont senator is mostly stuck at home in Burlington, stumping virtually for Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Sanders exited the 2020 primary with a promise: that he would do everything in his power to elect Biden in November. For more than a year, Sanders had assured worried Democrats that, if he did not win the nomination, he would be on the frontline for whomever did. Some were skeptical. They were wrong. As the race enters its final stretch, Sanders — after delivering an impassioned case for Biden at the Democratic convention last week — is making good on his guarantee.
He plans to stream a speech on Saturday making the case for Biden’s “concrete” economic agenda and how it differs from President Donald Trump’s “broken promises” — a point of focus that many on the left feel didn’t get enough programming time during the convention. And over the past month, Sanders has held livestreamed panels, each of them with a call to register and vote, with participants in Wisconsin, Kentucky, West Virginia and Iowa.
The events, Sanders’ team said, have racked up more than 850,000 views in all, for an average that exceeds 200,000.
After his remarks Saturday, Sanders will turn his energies toward Colorado and Texas. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke will join him, along with local leaders and candidates, for one virtual town hall, and freshman Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse, a progressive favorite, in another — both events designed to reach the kind of potential voters who have not been obsessing over the conventions or enduring panic attacks as the latest round of horse race polling comes in.
“The goal here is, primarily, to reach out to what we would call nontraditional voters, people who don’t vote all of the time,” Sanders said. “Working class people who are struggling right now and young people and people of color, Latinos, and say to them, make the case to them, why this election is enormously important for their futures.”
The issues that animated Sanders’ campaign have not receded. If anything, the fundamentals of his analysis have been underscored by the collapse of an already tattered social safety net as the coronavirus and its economic fallout continue to deepen. The difference now is that Sanders has to convince people — and not those who will be impressed by former GOP officials switching sides — that Biden’s election is the only way to assure their concerns will ever again receive a free and fair hearing.
“This is not just an election about health care or decent jobs or immigration or climate change,” Sanders said. “This is an election about the very nature of American democracy and whether we retain American democracy.”
The coronavirus has unleashed wicked and unpredictable crosswinds on the voting process. Trump has openly pushed to restrict the franchise, fighting funding for the US Postal Service and threatening to station law enforcement at in-person polling places. Democrats are pushing back in court and, to the extent they can, on Capitol Hill.
But with the GOP-controlled Senate unwilling to take up a House bill, passed by Democrats largely along party lines, to allocate $25 billion to the Post Office and clamp down on any of the changes that have slowed service, their options are limited.
“Trump has been pretty honest about his desire to sabotage the Postal Service,” Sanders said. “And he understands that if there is a large voter turnout, he will, in all likelihood, lose. So if you don’t want a large voter turnout, if you’re going to force people literally to put their lives on the line by having to vote (in person) and worry about getting sick, because you’re going to a polling station, you can suppress the vote very significantly by suppressing mail-in ballots.”
That is the unnerving reality has also begun to settle in for many Democrats: to defeat Trump in November, they will need overwhelming turnout — enough to overcome whatever traps fall in their way.
Sanders has acknowledged the challenge, one made even more complicated by the impossibility of his favorite tactic for getting out the vote. There will be little or no door-knocking ahead of November. Instead, Democrats up and down the ballot are investing more time and money online, trying to drum up excitement and help would-be voters navigate an often confusing new process remotely.
Asked if his and others’ efforts, even accounting for the heavily-viewed, far-reaching livestreams he’s been doing for weeks and plans to continue through the fall, can make up the difference, Sanders conceded it would be difficult.
“It’s a real loss and I don’t know that you can,” he said. “You have followed me enough to know I love real life campaigning. When I ran for mayor of Burlington a long, long time ago, I knocked on almost every door in the city. I love doing rallies, I love doing town halls. I love meeting people in person. And I think that is something that virtual relationships cannot replace. But we are where we are — we cannot endanger people’s health.”
Voting rights experts and seasoned organizers often talk about hierarchy of voter contacts. Face-to-face conversations are the most valuable. They also know that combating suppression efforts is a tricky business. Talk of suppression, even in the context of combating it, has the potential to discourage would-be voters from trying.
It’s a fine line to walk.
Sanders said the solution is to accentuate the positive and point to states, like his own, Washington and others, where vote-by-mail has a track record of success.
“You talk about the history of mail-in voting, which has been very, very successful in this country,” he said. “States have done it for years and you say to (people), ‘This is the most important election in the modern history of this country. You have got to vote, make sure your vote counts, vote early and vote by mail in as early as you possibly can.'”

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