Jim Messina, who served as former President Barack Obama’s campaign manager in 2012, warned in an interview with Politico on Saturday that President Trump would likely love to run against Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in a general election matchup, due to the senator’s open embrace of socialism
Messina told Politico that Democrats should be wary over the prospect of Sanders securing the Democrat nomination, warning that the Trump campaign will have an easier time exploiting the faults in Sanders’ socialist vision and therefore sway battleground states to the Republican side.
“If I were a campaign manager for Donald Trump and I look at the field, I would very much want to run against Bernie Sanders,” Messina told the outlet. “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,” he continued, explaining that socialism will be harder for Democrats to defend in a general election.
“From a general election perspective, socialism is not going to be what Democrats are going to want to defend,” Messina said. “If you’re the Democratic nominee for the Montana Senate race, you don’t want to spend the election talking about socialism.”
While Messina remains skeptical, he is not openly endorsing a candidate in the race. He did, however, attend a fundraiser for former Vice President Joe Biden (D) due to his wife’s support, Politico reported.
Another senior Obama campaign adviser echoed Messina’s concerns, noting that Sanders will struggle to motivate moderate voters to turn out.
The adviser stated:
My concern about Sanders would be just how low his ceiling may be. 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,” the adviser added.
The former Obama officials are not the only Democrats to express concerns over Sanders’ electability. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) suggested during an appearance on Sunday Morning Futures that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) could be holding the articles of impeachment in order to reduce the chances of Sanders performing well in the upcoming Iowa caucus, giving Biden a clear advantage.
“The Iowa caucus is on February third,” McCarthy said. “Bernie Sanders is in first place and what this does is benefit Joe Biden. This harms Sen. Sanders, who is in first place and could become their nominee because he will be stuck in a chair because Nancy Pelosi held the papers.”
The Sanders campaign, however, dismissed Messina’s concerns:
Sanders’ campaign pushed back by pointing to news reports in 2008 saying that Obama was not electable. The campaign also took a shot at Messina, who now heads his own firm, the Messina Group, and was hired in 2017 to represent former British Prime Minister Theresa May, the leader of the Conservative Party.
Sanders Communications Director Mike Casca told Politico:
If he [Messina] spent less time in boardrooms courting CEOs, he would witness the incredible energy generated by Bernie’s campaign, which has more than 5 million individual donations — the all-time record for a presidential candidate at this point in the race.
“But please do make sure Jim gives our best to his dear friend Theresa May,” he added.
The Sanders campaign has been experiencing a rebound in national and early-state polls over the past few months. A CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll released Friday showed the socialist senator taking first place in the Hawkeye State with 20 percent support, causing Biden to drop to fourth with 15 percent support.