With Bernie Sanders gaining steam a week before the Iowa caucuses, tormented Democrats are second-guessing what they say was a hands-off strategy against the Vermont senator in the 2020 primary.

They fear a repeat of 2016 is in the making — when mainstream Republicans scoffed at the idea that Donald Trump could ever win the nomination, until he became unstoppable — only this time from the left.

“The Republican money people were laughing at Trump when he came down the escalator and they kept laughing at him for way too long, until ‘holy crap’ he’s winning primaries,” Matt Bennett, co-founder of Third Way told POLITICO. Bennett said he’s attempted for weeks to find an organized effort to combat Sanders’ rise, so far, to no avail. “What I fear is one will emerge too late, as what happened with Trump.”…

But the Democratic establishment is caught in a catch-22: Attack Sanders and risk galvanizing his supporters and turning him into a martyr of the far-left. Or leave him alone and watch him continue to gather momentum.