“Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country,” the president said. “America was founded on liberty and independence – not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free.”
That was President Trump earlier this year. And it turns out even Jim Messina, the guy who brought former President Barack Obama to a successful reelection, even agrees.
Messina is Obama’s former campaign manager. He predicted that Senator Bernie Sanders wouldn’t have a shot at beating Trump. He said it’s all about Trump’s economic messaging.
“Bernie Sanders is unlikely going to be able to stand up to the constant barrage that is Donald Trump on economic issues,” Messina said during the Powerhouse Politics podcast this week.
Messina pointed to swing voters, who he said were “incredibly focused on the economy”. In the last five presidential elections, those who were able to “win” the economic argument won the swing voters, he said.
Of the declared Democrat candidates, Sanders currently leads the pack. But polling puts him behind former Vice President Joe Biden, who is expected to announce his 2020 bid on Wednesday. Messina has campaigned for Biden.
Those polling numbers probably don’t mean much to Messina.
In a past appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” he spoke about the irrelevance of public polls so early in an election year. And he didn’t mince words to host Joe Scarborough.
“Joe, you know how I feel about public polls,” he said. “I think all public pollsters should be shot.”
Of course nobody came after Messina for espousing violence… because he’s a Democrat.
Messina went on to point out there are more important ways of measuring a candidate’s viability.
“What you care more about is passion and intensity,” he said. “When I ran President Obama’s campaign, the number I looked at every day was intensity. Are my voters more motivated than Republican voters?”
He said in the interview that “our voters are more intense,” the report said.
If he indeed announces a bid, Biden will enter a field already filled with more progressive candidates like Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif, Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
Sanders is a self-described socialist (who, incidentally, is considered to be in the class of the ultra-rich).
He’s demonstrated a move further left that started when he came in second to former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016.
The media reports that a number of polls show both Biden and Sanders have more support than Trump for the 2020 general election.
Then again, all of the polls showed Clinton destroying Trump in the 2016 election.
Messina argues Sanders isn’t someone who could both grab swing voters and energize the base. That, he says, is a winning combo that former Presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Jimmy Carter were able to achieve.
“You have to excite your base and turn out people, and you have to win swing voters. And we are going to look for a nominee who can do both,” Messina said. “Today, you would say in a general election context, Bernie Sanders wouldn’t be that candidate.”
Biden aside, Messina has said that Sanders could win the Democratic nomination and be “the Donald Trump of 2020.”
Both candidates – Trump and Sanders – have been described as populist alternatives to establishment candidates.
But Sanders would have a tough economic argument, given record-low unemployment, strong manufacturing growth, and high gross domestic product that Trump is taking credit for over the past two years.
Trump attributes that success to his massive tax reform package, something Sanders was adamantly against. He’s instead pushed a slew of progressive policies, including single-payer health care. These policies set him and other progressives far apart from more moderate Democrats.
Messina says the upcoming Democratic primary will offer a great debate between those two wings within the party.
“Overall, this is being cast as a kind of insurgent versus the machine campaign — I think that’s wrong. Democrats are having a very healthy and very predictable fight about the ideological center of the Democratic party,” he said.
Personal finances will no doubt take center stage for both Trump and Sanders. Trump is still under fire for refusing to release his tax returns – which he has no legal obligation to do. And for his part, Sanders had to fend off criticism in a recent Fox News town hall over his and his wife’s income which totaled more than $1 million in 2016 and 2017.
Sanders will also have to answer to questions over whether he was influenced by foreign nationals.
Last month, Bernie Sanders was hit with a complaint that claims his presidential campaign violated federal election laws by employing non-Americans in advisory positions.
The complaint was filed by the Coolidge Reagan Foundation with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
It noted that three members of the Sanders campaign are foreign nationals, and that’s a clear violation of federal election laws that prohibit foreign interference.
Among those staffers named in the complaint was Maria Belén Sisa, Sanders’ deputy national press secretary who joined the campaign last month.
Sisa says she’s an illegal immigrant whose residency is protected under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA is an Obama-era program for assisting illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.
You may recall hearing about Sisa in the news recently. This, after she invoked an anti-Semitic “dual allegiance” trope of Jewish Americans while defending Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and questioning whether American Jews, including Sanders, were loyal to the United States.
According to the complaint, Sisa didn’t just receive a salary from Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, she also donated to it and is now serving in “an advisory position” in the 2020 campaign. According to the complaint, these are all “direct and serious violations” of federal election laws.
“Senator Sanders and Bernie 2020 is permitting a foreign national, Ms. Sisa, to serve in an advisory position which allows her to directly or indirectly participate in the decision-making process of persons with regard to election-related activities in violation of FEC regulations,” the complaint reads.
“Senator Sanders and Bernie 2020 is permitting a foreign national, Ms. Sisa, to serve in an advisory position which allows her to directly or indirectly participate in the decision-making process of persons with regard to election-related activities in violation of FEC regulations.”
FEC rules are very clear that foreign nationals, who aren’t lawfully admitted permanent residents, cannot directly or indirectly participate in political campaigns. They also aren’t allowed to make political contibutions.
Two other foreign nationals on the Sanders’ 2016 campaign are also named in the complaint. They are immigration activists Erika Andiola and Cesar Vargas, who worked as the campaign’s national Latino outreach strategist and press secretary for Latino outreach.
The complaint goes on to state:
“Due to the high profile of Cesar Vargas, Erika Andiola, and Maria Belén Sisa as leading activists in the undocumented community, there is reason to believe that respondents are ‘foreign nationals’ within the meaning of 52 U.S.C. § 301219b)(2), and in violation of 11 C.F.R. § 110.20 (i) and A.O. 2004-26, directly or indirectly participated in the decision-making process of persons with regard to the election-related activities of Bernie 2016.”
“There is reason to believe, having previously employed Ms. Sisa, that Bernie 2020 is currently, and knowingly, permitting a ‘foreign national’ … to directly or indirectly participate in the decision-making process of persons with regard to the election-related activities of Bernie 2020.”
The complaint asks the FEC to investigate both the 2016 and the current presidential campaigns and take action to curb the violations.
“The Commission should determine and impose appropriate sanctions for any and all violations,” the complaint read. “Further, the Commission should enjoin respondents from any future violations and impose any necessary and appropriate remedies to ensure respondents’ future compliance with the Federal Election Campaign Act.”
Last February, Sanders was mum on revelations that Russian actors tried to boost his presidential primary campaign to sink Hillary Clinton in 2016. Instead of addressing the accusations, he put out a statement blaming President Trump:
“It has been clear to everyone (except Donald Trump) that Russia was deeply involved in the 2016 elections and intends to be involved in the 2018 elections. It is the American people who should be deciding the political future of our country, not Mr. Putin and the Russian oligarchs,” Sanders said. “It is absolutely imperative that the Mueller investigation be allowed to go forward without obstruction from the Trump administration or Congress.”
His statement came shortly after Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian individuals and three Russian entities for helping the Kremlin interfere in the last presidential election starting as early as 2014.
That indictment revealed at the efforts included “operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.”
Russian “specialists were instructed to post content that focused on ‘politics in the USA’ and to ‘use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump—we support them.),’” the indictment continued.
The indictment said the message was sent around February 10, 2016, the day after both Sanders and Trump won their respective parties’ all-important New Hampshire primary contest.
Clinton and her spokesman didn’t comment on the indictments.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez did.
“This indictment gives us a chilling look at just how sophisticated, well-funded and wide-ranging this attack on democracy really was. It should send chills up the spine of every American.”
But that’s not all.
Last February, Vice News reported on what the FEC said was a confirmed instance of illegal meddling in the election – between Bernie Sanders and the Australians.
According to the FEC, Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign illegally accepted contributions from the Australian Labor Party. The FED says the Australian Labor Party paid for volunteers to fly across the globe to volunteer on his campaign. Details can be found in this ruling.
Not only that, but the volunteers even got $8,000 in stipends through an Australian government-funded education program to campaign for the Vermont senator in his 2016 run for the White House.
Before you scream fake news – we can assure you it’s not. The FEC ruled the Sanders campaign took about $25,000 in in-kind donations from the Australians. Sanders was ordered to pay more than $14,500 in civil penalties for violating campaign law.
According to Sanders’ campaign staffers, they knew that some of the Australian volunteers were getting stipends, but they claim they thought it was legal.
The Sanders campaign pushed back against the FEC initially and then agreed to pay up, saying they wanted to “avoid an expensive legal fight with the FEC”. They swore they did nothing wrong.
“During the course of the campaign, thousands and thousands of young people from every state and many other countries volunteered. Among them were seven Australian young people who were receiving a modest stipend and airfare from the Australian Labor Party so they could learn about American politics,” the spokesperson said. “The folks on the campaign managing volunteers did not believe the stipend disqualified them from being volunteers.
It all came out after William O’Brien, the Republican former New Hampshire House Speaker, filed a complaint with the FEC. He did it after seeing a video shot by Project Veritas that showed Australians pulling up law signs during the campaign.