Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman in 2000 was supposed to be crowned America’s first Jewish VP. Now, as the Democratic primaries are rolling to the finish line, there’s a solid chance that Vermont Senator, Brooklyn born Bernie Sanders, would be the first to have that honor.
When ABC’s “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos had this exchange:
Stephanopoulos: If you don’t, sir, and this is my final question, you open to being considered as Secretary Clinton’s running mate?
Sanders: It’s a little bit early to talk about that. Right now, our function is to do everything I can, George — and you’re going to see me running all over California, we’re in New Mexico now — we’re going to do everything that we can to get every vote and every delegate that we can and go into that convention with as much momentum as is possible.
Stephanopoulos: Didn’t hear a no, Senator. We’ll be talking to you soon. Take care.
Candidate Clinton for her part said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that she is open to a wide variety of possible running mates. She mentioned Dallas Mavericks owner businessmen Mark Cuban, who said he’d like to be either Clinton’s or Trump’s VP.
Now, that’s keeping your options open.
With very few primaries left — California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota and that’s it, Sanders stands no realistic chance of significantly cutting Hillary’s lead of 274 pledged delegates, never mind her 486 super-delegates. All Clinton needs to do at this point in order to win the Democratic nomination is to pick up only 90 of the remaining 939 outstanding delegates. Sanders must win 850. So that’s not going to happen.
But Bernie Sanders has a major advantage over Hillary Clinton in the national polls, which she cannot deny: while Clinton and Trump are split in major national polls, and over the past two weeks have been trading the same 2 to 3 points between them, meaning they are essentially tied, Bernie Sanders whips Trump by double digits in almost every single major poll.
It’s always dangerous to use May polls as an indication of the voter’s will come November, and national polls are even less reliable than state polls because you never know how the sample of 600 to 2,000 respondents was distributed, and whether the distribution in May has anything to say about November. But one point is clear today: while most voters openly dislike both Hillary and Trump, and vote for either one of them as the lesser of two evils — the same voters actually like Sanders.
Which is why it’s rare for Sanders to beat Trump in those national polls with less than a two digit lead. This is going to be part of Bernie Sanders’ camp’s argument in Cleveland this summer: Bernie can get the voters out, Bernie ignites their imagination. Hillary, even if she wins in November, will do so with a few votes over the split, and without coattails, meaning both houses of Congress will remain Republican.
When Sanders is urging the super-delegates to take “an objective look” at which candidate has a better shot at beating Trump in November, he’s talking about these national polls. Sanders has also condemned the entire institution of super-delegates, saying it is unfair and is part of an “anointment process,” rather than free and open elections.
Hillary has not expressed any degree of enthusiasm about doing with Sanders what her husband did with Al Gore in 1992 and 1996. “I am going to be the nominee and want to spend my time taking on Trump,” Clinton said. She urged Sanders to face the realities of the election process, reminding him that “we are stronger together.” She also noted that the differences between herself and Sanders on the issues “pale in comparison to Donald Trump,” suggesting that “most of his [Sanders’] supporters understand that as well.”
But should Sanders, with his considerable cache of both voters and money, decides to play hardball even after Hillary had picked up her 90 votes and crossed the finish line, would he be able to exact from the winner the ultimate price for his cooperation? The chances of that look better than 50-50 today.
Salon wrote this weekend: “Hillary must pick Bernie for VP: She may even need him more than he needs her.” Salon noted a Rasmussen poll found that 36 percent of likely Democratic voters want Clinton to name Sanders as her running mate – almost double the 19 percent of voters supporting the next most popular vice presidential contender, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. You’ll note that Sen. Warren is a lot closer to Sanders’ politics, especially on Wall Street, than Hillary’s.
And Politicus USA pointed on Sunday: “Bernie Sanders would bring Independents and lock down younger voters for Hillary Clinton. Sanders also attacks Donald Trump with a zeal and conviction that would throw the Republican off of his game for the entire fall. … Hillary Clinton could do a whole lot worse for herself than putting Bernie Sanders on the ticket.”