Hillary Clinton is already advising Democrats as a behind-the-scenes “invisible” candidate
Texas Insider Report: WASHINGTON, D.C. — Believe it or not, as the growing number of 2020 Democrat Presidential Candidates struggle to find a lane to victory, a split among Democrats may already be happening — due more than anything to a behind-the-scenes push from Hillary Clinton, who sources say is already working as a quiet advisor to Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar.
No doubt, the “progressive” lane in the 2020 Democratic field will be crowded, but a line is already being drawn by the candidates themselves — between the “Progressive” and the “Socialist” wings of the party.
And after Bernie Sanders’ recent announcement of his candidacy — which included a doubling-down on his brand of “Democratic Socialism” — the other candidates are being forced to pick sides over the “S” word, Socialism.
There’s little question there’s a path for Sanders to win the Democrat nomination. Sanders, who caucuses with Democrats, but serves in the Senate as an “Independent-Socialist”, raised $6 million in his first day on the campaign trail, staking claim to the seriousness of his candidacy.
But opponents of Sanders hope they can get voters to think twice about “feeling the Bern” — and they see the “Socialist” argument as a good one.
Whether they want to, or have to embrace Socialism during the 2020 Democrat primary, President Donald Trump has already begun using the term “Socialist” as a derogatory label against his 2020 Democrat rivals.
This will result in the Democrat candidates being questioned about whether they subscribe to Sander’s form of “Democratic Socialism, or whether they consider their policies to be a form of “Socialism”.
In his State of the Union address earlier this year, President Trump took an dig at socialism.
“We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country,” Trump said, as Republicans chanted “USA! USA!”
And, Republican operatives say they will continue to push the issue that the Democrat Party is being run by fringe candidates, who they say push policies out of step with the average American.
“Bernie Sanders is a self-avowed Socialist, who wants to double your taxes so the government can take over your health care,” says Michael Aherns, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee.
“The vast majority of voters oppose his radical agenda, just like they are going to oppose all the 2020 Democrats who have rushed to embrace it,” Ahern says.
As The Hill recently reported, some Democrats have begun distancing themselves from the “Socialist” label, and are instead pushing back on Sander’s rising influence in 2020:
“I think socialist is a word that someone who wants to beat Trump should consider carefully before embracing,” said one senior adviser to a rival (Democrat’s) campaign.
It’s not a new argument. Hillary Clinton and her supporters offered a similar cautionary tale during their bruising 2016 primary fight against Sanders.
But it could have more resonance in 2020 as Democrats try to find the person who can defeat Trump after their devastating disappointment in 2016.
At a campaign stop in New Hampshire earlier this week, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) was the first to draw a line in the sand.
“The people of New Hampshire will tell me what’s required to compete in New Hampshire, but I will tell you I am not a democratic socialist,” said Harris, after she was asked if she needed to be a “Democratic Socialist” to win the Granite State.
“I believe that what voters do want, is they want to know that whoever is going to lead understands that in America today, not everyone has an equal opportunity and access to a path to success,” she said, before adding that the U.S. needs to “course correct” on the issue of income inequality.
At the same time, former Cong. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), who is deciding whether or not he’ll run for president, also distanced himself from the label by declaring that he’s a “capitalist.”
“I don’t see how we’re able to meet any of the fundamental challenges that we have as a country without, in part, harnessing the power of the market,” O’Rourke told reporters in El Paso, Texas.
At a CNN town hall on Monday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), one of the more centrist Democrats among the declared candidates so far, made it known that she thinks Sanders’s policies are slightly unrealistic.
When she was asked if she could get behind Medicare for all, she said, “It could be a possibility in the future. I’m just looking for something that will work now,” she said, adding in a matter-of-fact way that she also was against free four-year college for all.
The notable names in this story are Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar — both of whom have been in private, behind-the-scenes talks with Hillary Clinton regarding their 2020 aspirations.
The New York Times recently published a story entitled, “Hillary Clinton Is Not a Candidate. But She Has a Role in 2020 Anyway,“ which detailed Clinton’s involvement in 2020 and painted her as the “invisible” candidate in the primary:
In recent months, a parade of ambitious Democrats has held private sessions with Mrs. Clinton, who has counseled them about the unmatched rigors of the campaign trail and hardships of facing Mr. Trump, according to people familiar with the conversations.
Beyond Mr. Biden and Ms. Klobuchar, she has spoken with: Senator Kamala Harris of California; Mr. Booker; Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts; John Hickenlooper, the former governor of Colorado; and the former housing secretary Julián Castro, among others. She and (former Virginia Governor and possible candidate) Mr. McAuliffe speak regularly, and Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana is trying to schedule a meeting with her.
Not everyone has sought Mrs. Clinton’s advice. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, whose 2016 primary challenge ruptured their relationship, has not spoken with Mrs. Clinton, or even reached out, despite the imperative to make inroads into her coalition.
Hillary put up a flailing fight against Sanders and his army of followers in 2016, nearly losing the nomination due to her personal limitations and the rabid passion among progressives who wanted to push the party further to the left.
And if you think the feuding between Sanders and Clinton ended after 2016, think again. Many former Clinton staffers and advisers feel he did irreparable damage to her candidacy during the primary, ultimately providing Donald Trump with the ammunition to validate the “Crooked Hillary” line.
As a result, stories have begun to surface containing both named, and unnamed sources who are beginning to bash Sanders, and they all originate from the Clinton camp in some way.
A recently published Politico story included former Clinton staffers who openly criticized Sander’s request for private air travel during the final months of the 2016 campaign — time he spent time campaigning for Clinton:
Many in the party continue to believe the Vermont senator played a role in contributing to Clinton’s defeat in November because of his criticisms of her prior to the general election, and his refusal to concede earlier when it appeared he had little mathematical chance of securing the party nomination.
They are eager to point out Sanders’ flaws and examples of what they perceive to be examples of hypocrisy now that the one-time underdog rates as one of the front-runners in the crowded Democratic field.
“I’m not shocked that while thousands of volunteers braved the heat and cold to knock on doors until their fingers bled in a desperate effort to stop Donald Trump, his Royal Majesty King Bernie Sanders would only deign to leave his plush D.C. office or his brand new second home on the lake if he was flown around on a cushy private jet like a billionaire master of the universe,” said Zac Petkanas, who was the director of rapid response for the Clinton campaign.
Yes, there is clear and open bitterness between the Hillary and Bernie camps, and the division among the 2020 Democrat contenders will provide yet another venue for those divisions to play out.
Amy Klobuchar, Joe Biden, and Kamala Harris are all expected to try and play to the middle ground during the primary, without venturing too far from Sander’s army of valuable followers. While this may be the result of their own strategizing — as candidates try to inoculate themselves from the “Socialist” label by the Trump campaign — it is also likely the result of Hillary Clinton’s advice on how to avoid alienating moderate voters who may not like Trump.
It will be a dividing line for the Democrat field as candidates gingerly attempt to finesse their allegiances — either to the older guard of the Clintons’ party, or the rising and deeply-progressive “Socialist-Democrat” strand being pushed by the likes of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
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Source: Texas Politics