Mum’s the word on the street, or at least in campaign headquarters of Democratic candidates for president, regarding a report circulating in the underbelly of American politics: the rumor mill in Washington DC. It is less of a report as much as it is tacit knowledge that powerful Democrats connected to both the DNC and progressive PACs like Tom Perez, Eric Holder, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and even Hillary Clinton are privately reaching out to certain candidates. They’re allegedly asking them to drop out of the race immediately following the South Carolina primary. Or, to be more specific, to drop out before Super Tuesday a few days later.
President Obama was also allegedly asked to reach out specifically to Joe Biden.
The source who originally reported it to me has suddenly “ghosted” me after four years as a source. Those who could confirm or deny the rumor are neither confirming nor denying it. In journalism, this is known as plugging a leak. In politics, it’s called business as usual.
For the past several days, I’ve reached out to others to check with their sources. Nothing. Under normal circumstances, I would assume the original source was mistaken. But this particular rumor isn’t getting the standard replies. Nobody’s saying “of course not” or “that’s ludicrous” or “absolutely not.” I’m getting the tried and true non-denials of “if so then I’m unaware” or “I haven’t heard that specifically” or “I’m not involved with that.” One response was very telling: “who leaked that to you?”
Of note is also the fact that none of the campaigns we reached out to have denied it. Standard operating procedure dictates political campaigns are supposed to deny any rumors that can harm their campaigns, and we’ve had plenty of those from campaign staffers in the past. But this time, it’s radio-silence. No denials. No canned responses. Not even a smidgen of indignation. Nothing.
My source, who worked for two previous Democratic presidential campaigns and has never been wrong before, said powerful Democrats are reaching out to Biden, Amy Klobuchar, Tom Steyer, and Pete Buttigieg. We know that Mike Bloomberg’s campaign reached out to at least three of these campaigns the day of the last Democratic debate asking them to stand down so he could prevent Bernie Sanders from becoming the nominee. We also know talks of a brokered convention have been circulating for months, but they have ramped up considerably since Sanders became the unambiguous frontrunner.
The path for Sanders to prevent a brokered convention is clear. He must win the nomination outright. To do that, he needs to keep the other candidates from getting delegates on Super Tuesday. If everyone currently in the race stays in, there’s a decent chance Sanders can sweep delegates in some of the states, including California, because it’s possible nobody else breaks the 15% threshold necessary to get delegates. If Sanders takes all of California’s and a couple of other states’ delegates, his path to the nomination is essentially set.
Verified reports of the DNC putting their thumb on the scale throughout the 2016 nomination process gives precedence to this rumor. But the notion that they’re employing the services of powerful Democrats is either new or under-reported in the past. Perhaps they didn’t think it was necessary since Sander was merely a threat to prolonging the nomination process and not really considered someone who could challenge Clinton for the 2016 nomination. This time, he’s more than a threat. He’s in the driver’s seat and nobody else seems capable of stopping him.
The DNC has been using its proxies in mainstream media to trash Sanders, but it doesn’t seem to be working. The American people, even Democrats, have grown skeptical of media reports, especially as they pertain to popular figures like Sanders or President Trump. If the DNC’s main source of control over their base is no longer influential enough to tip the scales, they’re stuck leaning directly on powerful Democrats coaxing many of the candidates into abandoning their campaigns.
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It would make zero sense for anyone to drop out of the race after the South Carolina primary but before Super Tuesday three days later. If they do, know this: The DNC and Mike Bloomberg pushed them to for the sake of stopping Bernie Sanders.