We still have no idea when or if the Senate impeachment trial will start or what the rules will be. But the general assumption is that something’s got to give and they should get underway later this month. This leaves several of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates who serve in the Senate in a bit of a fix. They can’t be seen skipping out on their solemn responsibility to act as President Trump’s jurors, but they really need to be hitting all of the campaign events in Iowa and New Hampshire. (And other states beyond those if the trial drags on too long.)
So what’s to be done? Just leave the field open for Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg? Not in the case of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. He’s got a plan and it all revolves around that boatload of campaign contributions he picked up in the fourth quarter of last year. (NBC News)
Of the five senator-candidates — Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Michael Bennet of Colorado — Sanders appears to be the best positioned to balance his senatorial duties with campaigning.
Sanders’ war chest, including his field-leading $34.5 million haul in the last quarter of 2019, allows him flexibility that other contenders can’t match — including the use of private jets to ferry him back and forth for late rallies in early states.
“They’re not going to be meeting at night [for the trial], so we can obviously fly from D.C. to states and hold events in the evening and fly back, you know, so he can be back in the morning to do his work in the Senate,” Sanders campaign adviser Jeff Weaver told NBC News.
Bernie has a lot more cash on hand than the rest of the Senators in the race. So that means he can sit in on the trial in the afternoons and then hop on a series of private jets to fly back and forth to campaign events in the evening. After a few hours of shuteye on the return private jet flight he can be up and ready to go to work in the upper chamber the next morning. Foolproof, right?
Well… to a certain extent, yes. Travel to and from campaign events for the candidate and the staff are all considered legitimate uses for campaign funds, so there shouldn’t be any FEC problems on the horizon for him. But, oh, Bernie… what about the optics? You’re just going to go banging back and forth six days a week on a private jet? What would Greta Thunberg say?
And oh, just by the way. Weren’t you one of the authors of the Climate Emergency Resolution? Twelve to fourteen private jet flights per week carrying only you and your staff doesn’t sound very emergency-minded. But I suppose those rules are suspended when there’s campaigning to be done, eh?
Oh, and there’s one other factor to consider here. That schedule would have Sanders in the chambers from fairly early in the morning until the trial session ends in the early evening. Then he’ll be hustling to the airport, dashing to various events, speaking in noisy halls, flying back late at night and having to get up the next morning to do it all over again. And this could last for literally weeks. So, not to put too fine of a point on this, but aren’t we talking about the guy who just recently recovered from a heart attack?
Ah, well. The risk is his to take and if he believes he’s up for it we shouldn’t try to stop him. But oh, Bernie… I can hear Time’s Person of the Year tsking and clucking her tongue in the background already.