Al Sharpton On Bernie Sanders’ Chances Of Winning Democratic Nomination: ‘You Cannot Underestimate Him’

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign event in Winterset, Iowa.
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With only nine days until the Iowa caucus, one candidate appears to be emerging as the favorite: Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. According to the latest poll of Iowa Democrats, Sanders has surged into first place, securing the support of 25 percent of caucus-goers, leaving his closest competitor seven points behind.

On Saturday, Rev. Al Sharpton weighed in on Sanders’ chances of winning the nomination. Per Mediaite, Sharpton discussed the prospect of Sanders becoming the Democratic nominee with MSNBC host Chris Matthews. Matthews opened the discussion by pointing out that nine of the last 11 Democratic nominees have won Iowa before running away with the nomination.

“Why is Bernie Sanders spiking in the first two races?” the host asked, noting that Sanders has also surged in the early state of New Hampshire.

“If he wins the first two, he’s considered the front-runner,” Sharpton replied, pointing to Sanders’ strong ground game, and suggesting that the senator should not be underestimated.

“Bernie Sanders has an operation on the ground … He knows how to organize — he almost won it last time in ’16, you cannot underestimate him.”

Sharpton also suggested that the latest developments in the U.S. Senate’s impeachment trial of President Donald Trump could help Sanders’ campaign. According to Sharpton, Senate Republicans’ apparent reluctance to allow new witnesses could provoke anger among the Democratic electorate, which might help Sanders, who is perceived as an anti-establishment candidate.

“I think the outrage that a lot of Democrats have of what’s going on with the impeachment trial — Bernie is the one you use to strike a blow back at what you see going on in Washington,” he said.

“If you are angry or upset, you want to go and strike a blow and your blow-striker is Bernie,” he added.

The impeachment trial has indeed altered the dynamics of the primary race. Stuck in Washington for the trial, senators running for president have been forced to dispatch surrogates to key early states. Of the top four candidates, two are senators; Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Sanders appears to have an advantage in that regard, given that he has a larger operation in Iowa, and prominent figures, such as filmmaker Michael Moore and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are among his surrogates.

However, the trial could turn out to be an advantage for former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, both of whom are free to campaign in Iowa.

Biden, who is leading in national polls, is set to embark on a bus tour in the Hawkeye State, and Buttigieg is holding a significant number of town halls.