Latinos, Sanders’s secret weapon in Nevada, could make him unstoppable on Super Tuesday
Chuck Rocha, a 51-year-old self-described “Mexican redneck,” has become a leader of Bernie Sanders’ 2020 operation, serving as a senior adviser with a broad purview that includes general strategy, hiring staff and overseeing print ads and merchandise. Rocha also crafts the campaign’s Spanish-language ads on television, radio and the internet. If anyone is responsible for the huge Latino outreach effort that has helped propel Sanders to the front of the Democratic pack, it’s Rocha. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle)
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Bernie Sanders has spent much of his career on the political margins, an outsider looking in. © Provided by Associated Press Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate at the Gaillard Center, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Charleston, S.C., co-hosted by CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Now, the protest politician is learning what it’s like to be the front-runner for a major political party.
Sanders was the target of persistent attacks in Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate, both from his more moderate rivals and the competitor closest to him philosophically, Sen. Elizabeth Warren. He faced granular questions about the cost and scope of his sweeping domestic policy agenda. His leadership credentials were challenged and his temperament tested like no time in his career.
Bernie Sanders: The '60 Minutes' Interview
Coming off his win in the Nevada caucuses, Bernie Sanders talks about Michael Bloomberg, Donald Trump, Democratic socialism, and what he would do if elected president.It's a stunning turn of events for a man who calls himself a "Democratic socialist," and is the first to admit he's been preaching the same populist, progressive message for decades. As the mayor of Burlington, Vermont, then a U.S. congressman, now an independent senator who caucuses with the Democrats, Sanders has been arguing that the very rich should pay higher taxes so that everyone can have health care, education, and a decent paying job.
“I’ve been hearing my name mentioned a little bit tonight. I wonder why?” Sanders quipped.
The pile-on indeed reflected the new reality of the Democratic race for the White House. Riding a wave of enthusiasm among young voters and the strength of an increasingly diverse coalition, Sanders has won two of the first three contests and effectively tied in the third. He’s competing aggressively in South Carolina, which votes Saturday, and could pull away from the field in the all-important delegate lead in next week’s Super Tuesday contests.
For Sanders, this is new political terrain.
He’s spent 40 years in politics as an agitator and an outsider. He’s run for office as an independent and is a loner on Capitol Hill. He prides himself on being ideologically rigid and has been willing to criticize Democratic leaders, including former President Barack Obama, for what he’s seen as politically expedient compromises.
Frontrunner Bernie Sanders takes brunt of attacks during Democratic debate ahead of South Carolina primary
The frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination took fire on the South Carolina debate stage from his rivals on a number of frontsBernie Sanders felt the burn during Tuesday’s debate.
Now, four years after his insurgent White House bid made him a household name, he’s poised to become the Democratic standard-bearer, and the party’s pick to take on President Donald Trump in November. © Provided by Associated Press Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks with members of the media after a Democratic presidential primary debate, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Sanders’ strength has rattled many Democrats, who fear that his uncompromising liberal ideology will turn off voters in swing states, particularly suburban women who were crucial to the party’s takeover of the House in 2018. Donors and other party elites are anxiously hoping a more moderate candidate can overtake him in the coming weeks, but they concede those prospects are increasingly unlikely unless there’s a significant swing in the race.
How Trump and Sanders turned populist rage into political power
There are critical distinctions: Sanders sees the culprits as the financial elite, billionaires and chief executives while Trump's movement is based on cultural resentments and blames immigrants and women.Onstage, a city council member gave a speech urging a “powerful socialist movement to end all capitalist oppression.” An actor accused the news media of slanted coverage. In the crowd, one Sanders supporter hoisted a sign that read: “Obi-Wan Bernobi — He’s our only hope.” Another wore a jumpsuit festooned with pictures of Sanders.
His rivals tried to engineer a shift in the trajectory of the race in Tuesday’s debate. They pummeled the Vermont senator with a fierce onslaught of attacks and, at times, put him on the defensive.
Former Vice President Joe Biden challenged Sanders’ effectiveness as a lawmaker, saying, “Bernie, in fact, hasn’t passed much of anything.”
Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, accused Sanders of moving the goalposts on the costs of his sweeping policy proposals, including a “Medicare for All” health insurance system.
Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg charged that Sanders would not only lose to Trump, but his nomination would result in a “catastrophe” for Democratic House and Senate candidates running in more moderate states and districts.
“Can anybody in this room imagine moderate Republicans going over and voting for him?” Bloomberg asked.
Even Warren, a friend and ideological partner of Sanders, took him on vigorously for the first time, finally giving in to supporters who have urged her to explicitly cast herself as the more pragmatic and effective progressive candidate in the race.
Bernie Sanders vs. the superdelegates, explained
In 2016, Sanders’s fans argued superdelegates cost him the nomination. This time, he might need them.Video by CBS News
“Bernie and I agree on a lot of things, but I think I would make a better president than Bernie,” Warren said.
Sanders was prepared for the onslaught. When faced with questions about his electability, he rattled off polls showing him beating Trump in a head-to-head contest. When pressed about the feasibility of his pricey, government-backed policy agenda, he said it was a misconception that his policies are radical.
Slideshow by photo services
Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidates (L-R) former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Amy Klobuchar and billionaire activist Tom Steyer take the stage for the tenth Democratic 2020 presidential debate at the Gaillard Center in Charleston, S.C., on Feb. 25.
Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders on stage as they participate in the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Gaillard Center, on Feb. 25, in Charleston, S.C.,
Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden participate in the tenth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season, in Charleston, S.C., on Feb. 25.
Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate at the Gaillard Center, on Feb. 25, in Charleston, S.C.
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Amy Klobuchar and Tom Steyer participate in the tenth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute at the Gaillard Center in Charleston, S.C., on Feb. 25.
Mike Bloomberg arrives for the tenth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season in Charleston, S.C., on Feb. 25.
Democratic presidential candidates at the Charleston Gaillard Center in Charleston, S.C., on Feb. 25.
All of a sudden, Sanders’s 2020 looks a lot like his 2016
The race itself, though, may come to resemble 2008.In one narrative, Sanders picked up where he left off four years ago, coming into the 2020 contest retaining the core base of support he had built in that nomination fight. He rolled up three wins in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada — better than he did in 2016 — and seemed for a while to be in contention in South Carolina, a state he lost by 50 points then. After Super Tuesday, Sanders appears as though he might win California, the biggest state in contention, and to have done better in Texas, the second-biggest.
Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden chat ahead of the tenth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute at the Gaillard Center in Charleston, S.C., on Feb. 25.
Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren wave as they arrive on stage for the tenth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute at the Gaillard Center in Charleston, S.C., on Feb. 25.
The stage is set for the Democratic presidential primary debate, on Feb. 25, in Charleston, S.C.
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A seat is reserved in the front row for Chasten Buttigieg, the husband of Democratic presidential candidate former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, for the CBS News Democratic debate on Feb. 25, in Charleston, S.C..
Carol Dunitz, dressed as Uncle Sam holds signs outside of the Charleston Gaillard Center in Charleston, S.C., on Feb. 25 ahead of the Democratic debate.
Yet Sanders was also forced to concede that he had made a “bad vote” in voting against stricter gun control legislation in the Senate.
And when he defended favorable comments he made recently about longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro, he appeared caught off-guard when some in the audience in the debate hall in Charleston, South Carolina, jeered.
How Democrats Can Solve Their Bernie Sanders Problem
The first step? Recognizing that it’s not one issue, but three.On Super Tuesday, Senator Bernie Sanders delivered an angry denunciation of his rival Joe Biden to supporters in Colorado.
“Really? Really?” he challenged the crowd.
The intraparty offensive came as a relief to supporters of Sanders’ rivals, who have urgently been raising alarms about his prospects in the general election and warning that time is running out to block his path to the nomination.
“You saw him pressed, finally pressed by the other candidates,” said Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Bloomberg supporter.
The coming days will test whether the increased scrutiny of Sanders raised new doubts for voters. He’s not expected to win in South Carolina but, flush with cash, he is pouring resources into the state this week in hopes of pulling off a surprise and blocking out Biden, who needs a convincing win to continue his campaign.
But Sanders’ real focus is on the delegate-rich states that quickly follow March 3, including California, the primary’s biggest prize. A win there could start to put the race out of reach for the rest of the field.
Sanders’ team voiced confidence after the debate, arguing the senator benefited from being the focus of the field’s attention.
“They threw everything at him,” said Nina Turner, a former Ohio state senator and a prominent Sanders backer. “He was in the center of that stage, where all the rest of them wanted to be.”
Associated Press writers Bill Barrow and Meg Kinnard contributed to this report.
EDITOR'S NOTE — AP Washington Bureau Chief Julie Pace has covered the White House and politics for the AP since 2007. Follow her at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC
Inside the Sanders campaign’s quest to win the Internet .
Bernie Sanders’s critique of the “corporate media” is inseparable from his effort to reach people in new ways — and on a whole different scale than his rivals.But the number of people who saw the senator from Vermont utter those words was an order of magnitude larger.