DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Increasingly alarmed that Bernie Sanders could become their party’s presidential nominee, establishment-minded Democrats are warning primary voters that the self-described democratic socialist would struggle to defeat President Donald Trump and hurt the party’s chances in premier House, Senate and governors’ races.
The urgent warnings come as Sanders shows new signs of strength on the ground in the first two states on the presidential primary calendar, Iowa and New Hampshire, backed by a dominant fundraising operation. The Vermont senator has largely escaped close scrutiny over the last year as his rivals doubted the quirky 78-year-old’s ability to win the nomination. But less than a month before Iowa’s kickoff caucuses, the doubters are being forced to take Sanders seriously.
Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, previously a senior aide to President Barack Obama, warned Democrats that Sanders’ status as a democratic socialist and his unwavering support for “Medicare for All” won’t play well among swing voters in the states that matter most in 2020.
“You need a candidate with a message that can help us win swing voters in battleground states,” Emanuel said in an interview. “The degree of difficulty dramatically increases under a Bernie Sanders candidacy. It just gets a lot harder.”