‘Stop Sanders’ Democrats Are Agonizing Over His Momentum – The New York Times

”Bernie Sanders believes the most critical mission we have before us is to defeat Donald Trump,” said Faiz Shakir, Mr. Sanders’s campaign manager. “Any and all decisions over the coming year will emanate from that key goal.”

Or, as former Senator Claire McCaskill put it: “One thing we have now that we didn’t in ’16 is the uniting force of Trump. There will be tremendous pressure on Bernie and his followers to fall in line because of what Trump represents.”

But Mr. Sanders is also taking steps that signal he is committed for the duration of the race — and will strike back aggressively when he’s attacked. On Saturday his campaign sent a blistering letter to the Center for American Progress, a Clinton-aligned liberal think tank, accusing them of abetting Mr. Trump’s attacks, of playing a “destructive” role in Democratic politics, and of being beholden to “the corporate money” they receive. The letter came days after a website aligned with the center aired a video highlighting Mr. Sanders’s status as a millionaire.

[Read more: The blowup between the Center for American Progress and Mr. Sanders’s campaign reflects ideological divisions among Democrats.]

With other mainline party leaders, he is offering more honey than vinegar.

Last month, for example, he used his first trip to Iowa as a 2020 candidate to quietly meet with Jeff Link, a veteran party strategist, and Patty Judge, the former state agriculture secretary, to discuss rural policy and politics, according to a Democrat familiar with the meeting. Mr. Sanders’s campaign also reached out to Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers and a top Clinton ally in 2016, to have her join them at what they dubbed an “Ohio workers town hall” on Sunday.

“If anybody thinks Bernie Sanders is incapable of doing politics, they haven’t seen him in Congress for 30 years,” said Tad Devine, Mr. Sanders’s longtime strategist, who is not working for his campaign this year. “The guy is trying to win this time.”

But such outreach matters little to many Democrats, especially donors and party officials, who are growing more alarmed about Mr. Sanders’s candidacy.

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