Sen. Bernie Sanders’ disappointing standing as Super Tuesday results rolled in sparked warnings and worries from Democrats about his ability to face off against President Donald Trump.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Al Sharpton questioned whether the Vermont senator could hold up against Trump in the general election were he to secure the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, something Hillary Clinton predicted earlier he could not achieve.
The MSNBC panel voiced doubts about Sanders’ electability as Tuesday’s poll numbers began to show victory after victory for former Vice President Joe Biden.
Biden’s sweep in the south, as he won states including Virginia, North Carolina, and Arkansas, was unpredicted just a week ago as many were writing off his faltering campaign with Sanders surging ahead. But Sharpton told the MSNBC panel that he was “not surprised” by Biden’s win in Alabama and the “huge night” he was having.
“I’ve been saying all along, that if you go into states that have diversity, Biden was always a favorite,” he said Tuesday, crediting Biden’s connection with former President Barack Obama.
He also noted that the results of Tuesday’s contests so far showed that predictions about a Sanders sweep were “political talk” as the “surge of young voters” never materialized. Sharpton contended that the coronavirus threat and other concerns meant that Democratic voters are looking for a presidential candidate who can provide “stability.”
Maddow weighed in on Sanders’ lack of support in the south, recalling his losses in the 2016 primary.
“He got crushed by Hillary Clinton in the South in 2016. He ran basically equal with her everywhere else in the country, except in the South where she just shellacked him,” she said. “That hasn’t changed.”
She went on to argue that the self-proclaimed democratic socialist got “walloped” in several states despite predictions that he would appeal to certain voting blocs.
“I mean, he just got walloped in South Carolina by 30 points with the best turnout yet. He has been walloped apparently tonight in Virginia and in North Carolina and in Alabama with these poll-closing calls, which means it’s not going to be close in any of those states,” Maddow observed.
“I thought Senator Sanders was adding to his likability and to, sort of, his range by really turning it up with Latino voters. But we are not seeing any sign of that at all in the South, and among black voters in particular,” she added.
Sharpton reminded the panel that “he lost the black vote” in the Nevada caucus last month, despite doing well with Latino voters.
Nicolle Wallace wondered if they had missed the obvious in ignoring Biden’s appeal to diverse communities, noting that “the handwriting’s been on the wall” about the 2020 hopeful’s chances according to polls.
“Biden’s been on top of every poll in South Carolina and in southern states for almost a year,” she said.
Ahead of the Super Tuesday voting, twice-failed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton shared some thoughts about Sanders with ABC’s Linsey Davis.
“I don’t think he’d be our strongest nominee, no, no,” Clinton said of her former 2016 primary rival.
“That’s what this primary process is about,” she added. “Let’s see who emerges, but for everybody voting today or in any of the contests ahead of time, the most important issue is who can defeat Donald Trump.”
NEW: “I don’t think he’d be our strongest nominee,” Hillary Clinton tells @LinseyDavis on Bernie Sanders.
— ABC News Live (@ABCNewsLive) March 3, 2020
Clinton, who has not officially endorsed a 2020 candidate, was asked about a potential brokered convention and laughed at Davis’ question on “Good Morning America.”
“I think we ought to be more understanding and realistic on what it takes to get change in this big, complicated, pluralistic democracy of ours.” @HillaryClinton says she stands by her opinion in her @hulu documentary that Bernie Sander’s campaign is “just bologna.” pic.twitter.com/vJTCSBAUDt
— Good Morning America (@GMA) March 3, 2020
“My reaction is, let’s follow the rules,” she said. “We’ve got rules. We had rules last time and we have rules this time. I think it’s always a good idea to follow the rules. Everybody knew what they were when you got into it.”
Clinton also doubled down on her previous comments calling Sanders’ presidential campaign “baloney” and labeling the Vermont lawmaker a “career politician.”
“That was my authentic opinion then; it’s my authentic opinion now,” she said.
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