As Democrats worry about whether Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders — as well as their supporters — can reconcile their differences and make for a smooth-running party convention late next month in Philadelphia, the Republican National Committee is secretly plotting to use die-hard supporters of Sanders to undermine and attack whoever Clinton picks as her vice-presidential running mate, according to a new report.
A leaked, secret internal memo, obtained by Huffington Post Senior Politics Editor Sam Stein, outlines RNC schemes to provoke outrage among Bernie Sanders supporters over any candidate picked by Clinton as her VP choice.
I am at the. #StillSandersMarch and is beautiful to see, many people and races having fun, dancing. #BernieOrBust pic.twitter.com/WFHr2cgcrgThe RNC operation, code-named "Project Pander" according to Stein, aims to "frame the choice as an insult to the large, deep base of Bernie Sanders supporters who are struggling with the notion of supporting Hillary Clinton as the presumptive Democrat nominee."
— SIRCOSMOKRAMER (@sircosmokramer) June 26, 2016
While Clinton has not named any possible candidate as her vice-presidential pick, various media reports have linked her to several top Democrats, including Virginia Senator Tim Kaine — now believed to be at the top of Clinton's list — Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, former San Antonio Mayor and current secretary of housing and urban development Julian Castro, and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker.
Watch Hillary Clinton discuss possible vice-presidential picks and other topics in the following video interview.
Castro is of Latino descent, Booker is African-American, and Warren is known as one of the most progressive members of the Senate whose tough-on-Wall Street stance could broaden Clinton's appeal to backers of Bernie Sanders, who regularly delivered a jeremiad against Wall Street as part of his regular campaign stump speech.
Of course, the presence of Warren on the ticket would create the first all-woman major party presidential ticket in American history. She would be the third woman selected as a vice presidential nominee by one of the two major parties. In 1984, New York congressional representative Geraldine Ferraro was picked by Democratic nominee Walter Mondale as his running mate. And in 2008, Republican John McCain infamously selected Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
Neither the Mondale-Ferraro ticket nor the McCain-Palin slate won their respective elections.
This year, Democrats have been concerned by the stark opposition of some Sanders supporters to the nomination of Hillary Clinton. Threats by activists to "crash" the Democratic National Convention, starting July 25, coupled with Sanders' own refusal to issue an endorsement of Clinton and his continued attacks on her in interviews even with the primary season ending almost three weeks ago have raised doubts about Sanders intentions in the upcoming general election campaign.
Will Bernie Sanders pull a Jeremy Corbyn and let Donald Trump win? https://t.co/VmCuDFsTmU pic.twitter.com/0upKqZyOhFNonetheless, a new poll showed that the vast majority of Sanders supporters are softening their stance and say that they will back Clinton, while a vocal minority has remained steadfastly against her, in some cases promising to vote for her opponent, Donald Trump.
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) June 26, 2016
According to the memo uncovered by The Huffington Post, the Republican National Committee hopes to use and even widen those divisions by feeding Sanders backers attacks to use against the eventual Clinton VP nominee.
The Republicans plan to "drive wedges between these top (Clinton VP) contenders and either Clinton and/or traditional Democrat constituencies, such as labor, environmentalists, and gun control advocates, and other traditional left-wing constituencies," the memo authored by RNC Research Director Raj Shah says.
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Chief RNC strategist Sean Spicer confirmed to Stein that his organization has already been actively digging for dirt on Kaine, Warren, and Castro in particular.
The plan outlined in the new memo would be far from the first time that Republicans and their backers have attempted to "drive wedges" between Clinton and Sanders.
In March, the right-wing Freedom Partners organization, backed by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch, paid for a pro-Bernie Sanders advertisement, and Charles Koch has publicly stated that he agrees with Sanders when it comes to his critique of "a political and economic system that is often rigged to help the privileged few at the expense of everyone else," Koch said.
[Featured Photo By Alex Wong/Getty Images]