Yesterday I wrote about a claim Hillary Clinton made during an interview on CNN. Clinton interrupted host Chris Cuomo to say, “I will be the nominee for my party, Chris.” Well, it turns out Bernie Sanders did not like that very much. A spokesman for his campaign issued a response Thursday evening:
In the past three weeks voters in Indiana, West Virginia and Oregon respectfully disagreed with Secretary Clinton. We expect voters in the remaining nine contests also will disagree. And with almost every national and state poll showing Sen. Sanders doing much, much better than Secretary Clinton against Donald Trump, it is clear that millions of Americans have growing doubts about the Clinton campaign.
There’s a lot packed in to that relatively brief statement. First of all, Sanders is rubbing it in that he is still winning contests even after the math suggests Clinton will be the nominee. The message is that Bernie and his people are not ready to settle. That’s something we saw in the CBS/NYT poll released Thursday which showed that 8 out of 10 Sanders supporters want other options, i.e. other than Clinton.
Next up, the statement suggests that Sanders expects to win some of the coming contests. In particular, reporting from the NY Times revealed Sanders’ goal is to win California and ride into the Democratic convention with “maximum political power.” It’s a pretty clear message that Sanders is still spinning up, not backing down.
Next, Sanders notes several recent polls which show he has a better chance against Trump than Clinton. In fact, the Fox News poll showed Clinton losing to Trump but Sanders beating him.
Finally the line about “growing doubts” about the Clinton campaign is a direct attack on Clinton’s abysmal honesty and trustworthiness numbers. In the Fox News poll, Clinton was underwater by 35 points on this question. The problem for Sanders is that at least some of that lack of trust is coming from the still-looming FBI investigation of Clinton’s emails. That’s a topic that Sanders long-ago put off limits.
The bottom line is that Sanders is doing what he said he would. He is driving this all the way to the convention, something that is cause for increasing concern among Democratic party elders. What they fear is a sideshow of angry Sanders’ supporters who will distract from the Clinton coronation. Again, that’s something Sanders seems willing to do. The Wall Street Journal reports Sanders camp has already made plans for large outdoor rallies near the convention:
Philadelphia has approved four demonstration permits in support of Sen. Bernie Sanders at the July Democratic National Convention — including a large rally planned near the convention’s epicenter.
One of the permits is for an event consisting of four days of all-day rallies at FDR Park in support of Mr. Sanders. The city said it expects 30,000 participants, and organizers said in an interview they hope turnout will be much higher.
Now imagine that Sanders wins California and the number of upset supporters at that rally turns out to be 50,000 or 75,000. How are those folks going to respond to Clinton taking the prize? Will it be a repeat of what we saw recently in Nevada? Maybe Sanders should announce a new campaign slogan in time for the convention: Make it great like ’68.