- Top Republicans think it would be good for the GOP if Sen.Bernie Sanders of Vermont is the Democratic nominee in 2020 because he’s a self-declared democratic socialist.
- “If we can run a race against a person that’s an out-of-the-closet socialist and promoting socialist ideas, it’s a great contrast for us,” GOP Senate Majority Whip John Thune of South Dakota told Politico.
- Sanders said the GOP is underestimating him at “their own peril.”
A number of key Republicans believe that if Sen. Bernie Sanders is the Democratic nominee in 2020 it will boost their chances of winning because he’s a self-declared democratic socialist.
“If we can run a race against a person that’s an out-of-the-closet socialist and promoting socialist ideas, it’s a great contrast for us,” GOP Senate Majority Whip John Thune of South Dakota told Politico.
Echoing this view, GOP Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa told Politico it would be “good for us to have a nominee like” Sanders.
At the moment, Sanders trails former Vice President Joe Biden for frontrunner status in a large field of Democrats, but Republicans like Thune think he has a good shot of winning.
They’re also hoping that if Sanders is the nominee it will reflect negatively on Democratic candidates in down-ballot races next year, Politico reported.
But some Republicans aren’t so confident that Sanders’ “socialist” label would spell his demise against Trump.
“It is entirely possible that the American people would vote for an avowed socialist,” Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas told Politico. “We are a closely divided country. If Bernie were the nominee, he could win.”
Since the day Sanders’ launched his campaign, Trump has sought to paint Democrats as the party of socialism. Trump has made the case that electing Sanders would induce the same type of chaos that’s currently on display in Venezuela under the authoritarian, socialist government of Nicolas Maduro.
“Bernie Sanders has already won the debate in the Democrat primary, because every candidate is embracing his brand of socialism,” Trump’s campaign said in a statement after Sanders announced.
“But the American people will reject an agenda of sky-high tax rates, government-run health care and coddling dictators like those in Venezuela,” the statement added. “Only President Trump will keep America free, prosperous and safe.”
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close ally of President Donald Trump, told Politico it would be a lot easier for the GOP to go with the strategy of portraying Democrats as the party of socialism if Sanders is the nominee as opposed to someone like Biden, who is more of a centrist. “It’s probably [more] effective against somebody who is actually a socialist,” Graham said.
Top Republicans seem to believe this is a winning strategy, but Sanders told Politico “they underestimate me at their own peril.”
Sanders said that Republicans don’t have a “forward-leaning agenda” to run on and thus “have to figure out some boogeyman that they think they can run against.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.