Even in the midst of a primary growing increasingly bitter — even violent, at times — the Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton campaigns still agree on one pressing matter: keeping Donald Trump out of the White House.
Despite Sanders’ defiance in the face of Democratic leaders urging him to leave the race before doing further damage to the Clinton candidacy, Sanders’ top aides say that Sanders has pledged to do whatever he must do in order to keep Donald Trump from winning the presidency during the general election, even if he has to work “24/7” in order to do so.
“Well, he certainly has said that he will do everything — he will work seven days a week, night and day, to make sure Donald Trump is not president, and I’m confident that he will do that,” Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver told CNN. “Bernie Sanders, as you know, is a very effective campaigner on the stump.”
No one on either side of the aisle can deny that Bernie Sanders is an “effective campaigner on the stump,” as Weaver says. The 74-year-old self-proclaimed Democratic socialist who began the race for the Democratic nomination for president with almost zero name recognition compared to the well-known Hillary Clinton has still managed to rally millions of people. And while Clinton has strong support from minorities, Sanders draws his support from young voters and working-class people, as well as appealing to independents.
“And I think he’ll take the message to them that Donald Trump would be a disaster for working-class and middle-class families in this country,” Weaver said. “Putting the Republicans back in control of Washington is not a good strategy.”
Donald Trump, the presumptive nominee for the Republicans, is urging Sanders to run as an independent, no doubt hoping that splitting the Democratic vote would almost guarantee a Trump presidency. Trump, who is already taking heat from the Clinton camp, tweeted again on Monday morning that Sanders should run as an independent if Clinton gets the nomination.
“Bernie Sanders is being treated very badly by the Dems. The system is rigged against him,” Trump wrote. “He should run as an independent! Run Bernie, run.”
Weaver, however, insists that Sanders has no intention of running as a third-party candidate, and will, instead, support the nominee, presumably Hillary Clinton.
We just won Kentucky! Thanks to everyone who turned out. We’re always stronger united. https://t.co/8qYPHIje8I pic.twitter.com/elNUP4nFoO
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) May 18, 2016
“And that’s what he’s gonna do,” Weaver said. “Trump obviously would like a third-party candidate on the left so that he could try to divide the vote and win. But I think what you’re gonna see is unity to defeat Trump.”
Weaver also attempted to assert that the Sanders campaign is helping Clinton by staying in the race, claiming that Sanders’ refusal to bow out now, despite the math that proves his clinching of the nomination is now a statistical impossibility, helps the candidates focus on the issues that matter to voters. With Sanders out of the race, Weaver believes it will turn ugly, with insults being hurled from either side and the issues that matter being left untouched.
“You know, as soon as this Democratic primary process is over, we’re not gonna hear any more talk about the minimum wage. We’re not gonna hear any more talk about making college affordable or providing health care to everybody. It’s gonna be a mudslinging contest. The Trump people, the Republican Party, all their super PACS, are gonna engage in character assassination no matter who the nominee is, and that’s what it’s gonna be focused on. It’s unfortunate, but as long as there a Democratic primary process going on, people are talking about issues that are important not only to Democrats but to Americans as a whole.”
Both Clinton and Sanders emerged as victors in Tuesday’s primary. Clinton took Kentucky, while Sanders took Oregon and, in fact, walked away from Tuesday’s primary with more delegates than Clinton. However, Clinton still leads Sanders in popular vote by over three million — a significant lead — and still maintains a comfortable margin in pledged delegates of roughly 280. With only one significant primary contest night remaining, when California and New Jersey will weigh in, Clinton is expected to formally take the nomination for the Democratic party on June 7.
What do you think? Is Bernie Sanders helping Clinton by staying in the race, or is he ultimately helping Donald Trump?
[Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]