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Tipsheet

Obama Campaign Manager on Bernie: Socialism Is Not What Democrats Want to Defend

AP Photo/Cheryl Senter

Barack Obama's 2012 campaign manager, Jim Messina, said Democrats will have a tough time defending socialism should Bernie Sanders win the party's nomination for president. Messina made his warning during a recent interview with Politico.

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“If I were a campaign manager for Donald Trump and I look at the field," Messina said, "I would very much want to run against Bernie Sanders. I think the contrast is the best. He can say, ‘I’m a business guy, the economy’s good and this guy’s a socialist.’ I think that contrast for Trump is likely one that he’d be excited about in a way that he wouldn’t be as excited about Biden or potentially Mayor Pete or some of the more Midwestern moderate candidates.”

Politico noted that while Messina says he will not be endorsing any candidate in the 2020 race, the former campaign manager recently attended a Joe Biden fundraiser in California, noting that his wife is a supporter of the former vice president and his bid for the White House. 

Messina anticipates problems for Democrats in swing states should the party nominate a radical candidate like Bernie Sanders.

"From a general election perspective, socialism is not going to be what Democrats are going to want to defend," Messina told Politico. "If you’re the Democratic nominee for the Montana Senate race, you don’t want to spend the election talking about socialism."

Politico also spoke to another senior member of Obama's campaign team, under the condition of anonymity, who echoed Messina's concern that a Sanders nomination could hurt Democrats in key states that the party would need to win in order to defeat President Trump. 

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"My concern about Sanders would be just how low his ceiling may be," the unidentified adviser told Politico. "The argument Sanders would make is he can turn out tough-to-turn-out voters. While many are very progressive like the Sanders base, most aren’t, most aren’t connected to politics, they tend to be more moderate. I think it’s a falsehood that all the people not registering to turn out are looking for the most classically liberal candidates — that’s just not true."

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) currently leads the Democratic field in the first to caucus state of Iowa, according to recent polls. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is a close second, followed by Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren. The Iowa Democratic caucuses take place on February 3rd. 

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