Democratic Rivals Have Seven Days to Stop Sanders

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, center, speaks as fellow candidates businessman Tom Steyer, from left, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, listen, on Jan. 14, 2020, during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN and the Des Moines Register in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Rival candidates have just a week to stop Sen. Bernie Sanders if they hope to prevent the Independent from Vermont from taking the party’s presidential nomination.

Sanders is the undisputed front-runner in the race after his thumping victory in Nevada’s caucuses on Saturday.

His current trajectory is set to carry him to at least a top-two finish in South Carolina’s primary Saturday. From there, he looks likely to roll through Super Tuesday on March 3, harvesting huge numbers of delegates from California and other large states.

It is eminently plausible that, by the end of that night, Sanders will have jumped out to a delegate lead that none of his rivals can reel in — especially given the likelihood that more than a half-dozen other major candidates remain in the race.

It’s a prospect that thrills his supporters — and horrifies Democrats who fear the democratic socialist would lose a general election to President Trump.

Sanders has a real chance of winning the South Carolina primary. Such a result would likely mark the de facto end of former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign — and give Sanders unstoppable momentum going into Super Tuesday.

“If he wins South Carolina, the train has left the station,” said one Democratic strategist who asked for anonymity to discuss the state of the race.

The Vermont senator’s strength in California is especially important. There are 415 delegates up for grabs in the Golden State — the single biggest prize in any primary. Even though the state’s primary is not winner-take-all, sizable margins for Sanders could catapult him way ahead.

Sanders currently has an 11-point lead in California, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average.

The speed at which Sanders has moved into a dominant position has left many more moderate Democrats both disconcerted and panicked.

There is not a great deal of empirical evidence to support their charge that he is unelectable. In polls that measure hypothetical match-ups with Trump, Sanders does not perform notably worse than other candidates.

But Democrats who are skeptical of Sanders had their nerves jangled again Sunday by comments he made about Fidel Castro, the late Cuban president.

Sanders was asked during a CBS “60 Minutes” interview about his past praise for elements of Castro’s government, and essentially repeated his view.

“When Fidel Castro came to office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing? Even though Fidel Castro did it?” Sanders said — even though he also condemned Castro’s authoritarianism.

Rivals including Biden and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg blasted Sanders for the remarks. Democratic members of Congress joined the chorus of condemnation — Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Fla.) called the comments “absolutely unacceptable” — and the Democratic Party of Florida also distanced itself.

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Source: The Hill