A Trump and Sanders alliance is probably as likely as a screen door keeping water out of a submarine, but that isn’t stopping Trump from trying.
In a speech following his Tuesday night/Wednesday morning victories, the GOP frontrunner extended an olive branch to disenfranchised Sanders followers, who are infuriated by how the Vermont Senator was handled by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the superdelegates process.
While Bernie has effectively lost the Democratic nomination, he was trailing by around 500 delegates from the beginning of the primaries due to a number of superdelegates pledging their support for Hillary Clinton before they even had a chance to see what voters had to say.
In hopes of building a Trump-Sanders connection — or at least picking off Bernie’s voters — Donald has been hitting the Democrats’ nomination process hard, calling it “rigged” and saying that Bernie has “been treated horribly.”
— Bloomberg View (@BV) June 8, 2016
Late Tuesday night, Trump told Sanders’ supporters that he welcomed them “with open arms.”
As unusual as that may seem, one look at the chaos that ensued in Nevada is enough to see that at the very least, Sanders’ supporters may stay home in November and choose to not support Clinton, while others might actually cast a vote for Trump thinking that he’ll be more centrist or left-of-center once he’s elected.
There is good precedent for this as the presumptive GOP nominee has, in the past, been for social welfare programs and abortion among other liberal platform staples.
A bridge between Trump and Sanders voters could also be built on the foundation that the Donald funded his own campaign and has the same message on trade deals and getting money out of politics.
Trump neutralized the criticism that he was “part of the problem” by freely admitting to it and often pointing out the “pay to play” unfairness of the modern political system during the primaries.
He had “proof” since he’d been doing it so long that everyone from the Bush family to Hillary Clinton herself were “for sale.”
This was something Sanders seized on in later debates. After starting out nice with Clinton, things turned sour in a hurry once it became apparent that the DNC superdelegates were not taking him seriously.
He attacked Clinton’s corporate donors, called for her to release the transcripts from her six-figure speeches, and even began to question the legitimacy of the Clinton Foundation.
In the end, the two became such adversaries that even after a bad night on Tuesday, Sanders vowed to fight on for the Democratic nomination.
Donald Trump News: Trump Says Bernie Sanders Has ‘Given Me a Lot of… https://t.co/vq5m7VMWTd pic.twitter.com/CxamE4wdTs
— Paul Ryan news (@Speaknews24) May 29, 2016
If Trump continues the “rigged” rhetoric, loosens up on the controversial statements, and hits more on trade and campaign finance, he could find an unlikely source of support from the left — if not from Sanders himself, then from his disgusted-with-Clinton supporters.
But will that be enough to stop the Hillary Clinton zeitgeist?
One look at polling numbers from the primaries would indicate: perhaps. He will definitely have to unite the Republican party, which he now seems to be doing with the endorsement of House Speaker Paul Ryan, though that endorsement is tenuous in the face of racially divisive comments directed at the Mexican judge on his Trump University case.
With the full backing of the GOP, Trump could get enough Sanders supporters to either vote or stay at home, and that could put some typically Democratic states — like California, for instance — in play.
While you probably shouldn’t expect a Trump-Sanders ticket at this point, the events of the June 7 primary leave Trump with options when it comes to making a play for disenfranchised Democrats.
But what do you think, readers?
Does Trump have a shot at Sanders supporters? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Image via Flickr Creative Commons / Andrew Bisdale]