Donald Trump made a campaign stop in Bernie Sanders’s home state of Vermont Thursday and told the crowd that running against Sanders in the general election would be a “dream come true.” Sanders quickly agreed that such a match-up would be a dream come true — for him.
Trump made the statement at a rally in Burlington, where Sanders was mayor for eight years. Sanders sent out a tweet in response, linking to a Quinnipiac poll which found that in a hypothetical Trump vs. Sanders presidential election, Sanders would trounce him 51 to 38. The same poll also found that 50 percent of voters say they would be embarrassed to have Donald Trump as president.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) January 8, 2016
Other polls have reported similar findings. Sanders beat Trump by nine points in an October CNN poll and won by 12 points in a November McClatchy-Marist poll, according to Newsmax. According to the Real Clear Politics average, Sanders’s margin of victory is smaller at two points. But even a Fox News poll only put Trump ahead by five points.
Sanders’s campaign has been fighting back in recent weeks against claims that the senator is unelectable. Even Hillary Clinton, Sanders’s chief rival for the Democratic nomination, has used the idea that she is more electable against Trump than Sanders. In an appearance on Good Morning America, Sanders pushed back on the notion.
“I would suggest that Secretary Clinton look at the last Quinnipiac poll, which has me leading Trump by a significantly higher margin than she does, and that’s true of other polls as well.”
Sanders has been going on the offensive against Trump for the past several weeks. In December, he blasted Trump for being a billionaire who wants to reduce the minimum wage. As the Guardian reported, Sanders actually seemed to force Trump into a reversal on the issue.
At the fourth Republican debate, Trump disagreed with raising the minimum wage, saying, “Taxes too high, wages too high, we’re not going to be able to compete against the world. I hate to say it, but we have to leave [the minimum wage] the way it is.”
But on December 28, after Sanders went after him on the issue, Trump tweeted, “Wages in are [sic] country are too low, good jobs are too few, and people have lost faith in our leaders. We need smart and strong leadership now!”
Sanders also went after Trump on This Week, where he had some of his harshest words yet for his GOP rival. After host Martha Raddatz questioned whether Sanders calling Trump a liar violated his promise not to engage in personal attacks, Sanders essentially said Trump leaves him little choice.
“The truth is I do not get engaged in personal attacks, but Trump really is over the edge… Time after time, this guy just comes up with things off the top of his head that are lies. And somebody has got to say that he is a pathological liar.”
Trump has also mentioned Sanders seemingly more frequently than any other Republican presidential candidate. He seemed to choose Burlington for a rally deliberately to needle Sanders, mentioning him frequently and boasting about having the courage to make an appearance in such a thoroughly blue state as Vermont.
Trump staff asking if you're a Trump supporter at the door. If no? Turned away. Tim Farr was one. (Vid 1/2) pic.twitter.com/TNfD4jPCoO
— Katy Tur (@KatyTurNBC) January 7, 2016
In a write-up of the event on Mashable, Juana Summers reports some level of pandemonium from protesters both inside and outside the event. For one thing, the Trump campaign gave away 20,000 tickets for an event held at a venue with only 1,400 seats. Attendees were required to take a loyalty test before they were allowed entry. Many were turned away at the door, and those who did sneak in were thrown out after being discovered, as has become common for Trump events.
Outside the event, police were deployed for crowd control after Trump overbooked the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts. Protesters held up signs saying things like, “Elect Bernie, Tax Trump.”
Despite Sanders outperforming Trump in several polls, there remains a huge distinction between the two in the amount of coverage the mainstream media gives them. Sanders himself is aware of this reality and has frequently called out the media for amplifying Trump’s bombast for the sake of ratings.
In December, the Intercept reported on the disparity of coverage between the two candidates, finding 690 mentions of Trump’s name in mainstream media headlines and only 20 mentions of Sanders. Media Matters found that one specific program, World News Tonight, had devoted 81 minutes of coverage to Trump and just one to Sanders. They also found that Jeb Bush’s floundering campaign and even Joe Biden’s decision not to run received a great deal more coverage than Sanders.
[Photo by Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx]