Joe Biden seized control of the Democratic primary with a string of major victories on Super Tuesday, but the former vice president warned that there was still a potentially bruising race ahead as he prepared for negativity from what he called the “Bernie Brothers.”
Biden gave the warning in a phone call with donors this week, just days after he pulled off a number of upsets on Tuesday in states he was predicted to lose to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. As CNN reported, Biden’s once cash-strapped campaign has since seen a rush of donations, as it raised $22 million in the days since the victories. Biden briefed donors on the campaign in a phone call on Friday.
As the report noted, Biden told the supporters at a Maryland fundraiser that there could be an “increasingly negative” campaign from what he called the “Bernie Brothers.”
“What we can’t let happen is let this primary become a negative bloodbath,” Biden said. “I know I’m going to get a lot of suggestions on how to respond to what I suspect will be an increasingly negative campaign that the Bernie Brothers will run.”
“We can’t tear this party apart and reelect Trump. We have to keep our eyes on the ball, in my view.”
Biden appeared to be referencing the “Bernie Bros,” a pejorative term referring to the more fanatical supporters of Sanders, who attack critics online and launch mean-spirited attacks against other candidates. The term has generated controversy as some have disputed the true extent of this group of supporters, noting that the Mueller report found that Russian trolls had also targeted the Sanders campaign in an effort to sow discord among Democrats.
Sanders himself has hinted that this could be the case, saying in February that he believes Russia is once again taking aim at his campaign.
“In 2016, Russia used internet propaganda to sow division in our country, and my understanding is that they are doing it again in 2020,” Sanders said in a statement, via FT.com. “Some of the ugly stuff on the internet attributed to our campaign may well not be coming from real supporters.”
Though Sanders now has a narrow path to victory in the Democratic primary and may need to abruptly change the momentum of the race with some Biden-favoring states ahead, the Vermont senator has continued to aggressively press his opponent. In the days after Super Tuesday, Sanders has taken aim at statements from Biden on Social Security, saying that he may seek to cut it.