by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Trump and his aides are trying to boost Bernie Sanders ahead of the Iowa caucuses as they seek to secure a hard-line socialist opponent in November’s election, according to Republican sources.
They point to Trump campaign speeches, the presidential Twitter feed, and allies’ comments talking up the 78-year-old senator’s chances of winning the nomination as evidence of the strategy. Conversely, Sanders is also the target of Trump verbal attacks, but those are designed to excite his grassroots supporters and provide him with fundraising messages.
Trump deployed the messaging during Tuesday’s rally in Milwaukee. “Bernie is surging, Bernie is surging,” said Trump.
He also used the occasion to side with Sanders in a feud with Elizabeth Warren, Sanders’s rival for the endorsement of the left wing of the Democratic Party, over whether the Vermont senator told her in 2018 that he did not believe a woman could win the election.
Twice in the past week he has tweeted about Sanders. “Wow! Crazy Bernie Sanders is surging in the polls, looking very good against his opponents in the Do Nothing Party,” he wrote in one message. “So what does this all mean? Stay tuned!”
Officially, the Trump 2020 campaign says it can beat any opponent. Privately, insiders say former Vice President Joe Biden would offer the stiffest contest in the battleground states of the Rust Belt, while Sanders’s leftist message on healthcare, redistributing wealth, and tackling climate change would scare off wavering voters.