“OMG why is this happening,” said a text message from a staffer at the DNC. I had sent him a clip of Bernie Sanders defending his comments about Fidel Castro, comments that started coming out in a 60 Minutes interview and continued throughout the week. He’s not backing down. He’s clarifying without retracting. Bernie Sanders truly believes there were benefits to Cubans who lived under the Castro regime.
Going into the South Carolina primary on Saturday and Super Tuesday a few days later, Sanders is the clear favorite. He’s first or second in just about all of the polls, including a big lead in California and a virtual tie for first in Texas. But his recent Cuba comments came at a time when many Establishment Democrats and even a handful of NeverTrumpers were trying to make the case that perhaps Sanders wouldn’t be so bad as a nominee. Now, they’re truly scared.
The last thing Sanders needed was more attention given to his Cuba comments at last night’s debate, but there was no chance he’d make it through the debate without being called out. His responses were acceptable to his base, perhaps enough to not sway supporters against him, but they’ll do nothing to help him expand. If he can somehow catch Joe Biden in South Carolina, the race may be over. But that seems very unlikely at this point.
Right now, the best thing Sanders has going for him is victimhood. It’s hard to imagine a frontrunner being a victim, but negative ads by Mike Bloomberg and constant attacks by mainstream media have only served to strengthen the resolve and enthusiasm of his base. They’re crying foul. They’re calling it a repeat of 2016, only worse since this time he’s in the driver’s seat. Will he be able to ride victimhood to the nomination?
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He may need to if he has a real chance of securing it. The stage is already being set for a contested convention, a scenario that most believe favors Bloomberg or whichever “moderate” ends up on top when the convention rolls around. If Sanders doesn’t outright win the nomination, it may be impossible for him to be the plurality nominee.
Things are about to get dirty. Okay, so the DNC has been playing dirty since before the Iowa caucus, but now they’re going to get REALLY dirty. The oppo research teams are working overtime. Can the DNC stop their top candidate? Probably not.
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