Yesterday I posted this diary, Prediction: Bernie Drops Out After Next Tuesday, in which I argued that Bernie was going to stay in long enough to have his one-on-one debate with Biden, and to have one more primary vote, and after that he would suspend his campaign. Now WaPo’s The Fix is saying the same thing:

Bernie Sanders sounds like he may be giving himself an off-ramp

Well, Sanders said Wednesday afternoon that he’s pressing on. But even in those remarks, you could sense a potential off-ramp for him and his campaign.

Bernie made it clear he’s staying in so he can ask Biden some serious questions at Sunday’s debate (which is still scheduled but which will not have a studio audience):

At the end of his remarks, Sanders said he looked forward to debating “my friend Joe Biden” Sunday in Arizona. He then proceeded to list a bunch of questions he would be asking Biden at the debate. Among them:
  • What will Biden do about 500,00 [sic] people who go bankrupt thanks to medical debt and those who pay 20 percent of their income toward health care?
  • Would Biden really potentially veto Medicare-for-all legislation?
  • How he will respond to scientists who say we have seven to eight years to do something about climate change before the harm becomes irreparable?
  • How he will address college affordability and student debt?
  • What he will do about mass incarceration and “racist criminal justice system?”
And so on. You get the idea. Sanders was essentially saying he will press Biden on some of his most cherished issues and that he’ll demand specifics.

The Fix’s Aaron Blake admits that Bernie’s speech could be read either way: setting up a contrast between him and the “establishment” candidate, or giving Biden an opportunity to move more to the progressive lane, and not incidentally letting Bernie make the argument later that he can step aside in good conscience because Biden will work with him on his agenda.

Then Blake points out that, by “telegraphing” his question four days in advance, Bernie is essentially letting Biden know what he plans to do on Sunday, and giving him time to prepare the answers that Bernie — and his supporters — will want to hear. If Biden comes through, Bernie can not only hand him the nomination with a clear conscience, he can rally his supporters to enthusiastically supporting the nominee.

And to the extent Sanders doesn’t see much of a path forward, perhaps he’s generally interested in giving Biden a chance to satisfy his test. Perhaps before he can get out of the race in good conscience, he needs Biden to give him something in the way of policy concessions and to put it on the record. That way he can argue that at least he had pulled Biden in his direction and that he impacted Biden’s general-election priorities.
In the same remarks, Sanders emphasized that his policies were winning, even if his candidacy wasn’t.

Bernie also seems clear that the only way to get any of his ideas even considered, let alone enacted, is to get Trump out of here. Blake ends with a quote from Bernie’s ABC’s This Week, before Tuesday’s Biden romp:

“Let me conclude the way I began: Donald Trump must be defeated, and I will do everything in my power to make that happen,” Sanders said. “On Sunday night in the first one-on-one debate of this campaign, the American people will have the opportunity to see which candidate is best positioned to achieve that goal.”

My prediction stands.

One other comment: Some Democrats are calling for most of the remaining primaries to be canceled. BIG MISTAKE, even after Bernie steps down as I hope he will. For one thing, there is still another candidate, Tulsi Gabbard, though she’s a Russian useful idiot and a joke. But, as others have pointed out, there’s lots of down-ballot races, initiatives, and so on. And I’m not sure it’s even legal to stop the primaries, not to mention it would become another distraction for Trump to scream about.

  • March 11, 2020