To no one’s surprise — aside from some deluded Trumpkins — Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., delivered a robust endorsement of Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire Tuesday:
“I have come here to make it as clear as possible as to why I am endorsing Hillary Clinton . . . This campaign is not really about Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders . . . This campaign is about the needs of the American people and addressing the very serious crises that we face. And there is no doubt in my mind that, as we head into November, Hillary Clinton is far and away the best candidate to do that.”
That message was deftly crafted — make the race about bigger issues and remind Democrats they may not love Clinton but she is “far and away” the best choice for his former followers. He preserves his principles by slyly reminding voters that it’s virtually inconceivable liberals would prefer Trump to Clinton.
The amateurish Trump camp then exploded with a series of news releases (they hired a rapid response staffer, so I suppose he needs to show he’s working) to remind voters Sanders said mean things about Clinton in the race. Shocking, I know.
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Whom is this aimed at? Surely the Sanders people are not going to be wooed by Trump’s nasty accusation that Sanders’ endorsement is now “Exhibit A in our rigged system — the Democrat Party is disenfranchising its voters to benefit the select and privileged few.” Calling Sanders a hypocrite is no way to make friends, but then, Trump cannot manage to solidify his GOP support as Clinton has now accomplished.
Moreover, the Trump adviser’s description of Clinton — bizarrely accusing her of launching a war in Iraq (!?!) — should suffice to remind us that if conservative, internationalist, pro-free-trade Republicans are looking for a candidate, they’d do better with Clinton than Trump.
It was ludicrous from the get-go to think Sanders’ followers — pro-gay rights, pro-choice, pro-immigration, pro-environmentalist, pro-nationalized health-care supporters, pro-Black Lives Matter — would rush to the candidate who has insulted women, minorities and the disabled, wants to build a wall and deport millions (while keeping all Muslims out) and has suggested women should be punished for abortions. Indeed, as The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent details, the pro-Clinton super PAC has a series of ads highlighting many of those stark differences (e.g., on minimum wage, education, immigration).
“Bernie voters will choose Trump” is another morsel of self-delusion the Trumpkins have been munching on as they head toward electoral defeat. Other lies they tell themselves — Trump will rewrite the map; Hispanics love him; he’ll self-fund; he hires the best people — have likewise evaporated. You wonder how they imagine he’s going to win the election.
More important, you wonder if the Republican National Committee delegates seeing Trump’s electoral “plan” (if he ever had more than “go on TV”) fizzle will start wondering just how big a loss the GOP would suffer with Trump at the head of the ticket. Could they lose both houses of Congress? Would he drag down GOP gubernatorial candidates as well?
In short, Sanders’ endorsement should remind onlookers that for all her faults, Clinton is running a comparatively competent campaign and successfully unifying her party. That’s more than Trump can say. Sad!
Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Washington Post.