U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders has privately voiced worries about the way Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has been campaigning as the race heads into its final weeks, according to a report.
Sanders, who dropped out of the race in April and immediately endorsed Biden following a hard-fought Democratic primary battle last spring, has said he wishes Biden would focus more on kitchen table issues like higher wages, job growth and health care access in campaign stops rather than criticizing President Trump, the Washington Post reported, citing three sources familiar with his conversations.
Sanders, who garnered a youth movement around his two White House runs, also hoped that Biden would embrace progressive firebrands like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., more closely in an effort to gather more support from young voters. Ocasio-Cortez stumped for Sanders during his run.
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The independent senator from Vermont also believes Biden’s centrist rather than progressive approach could lead to another Democratic loss, the sources said. Still, some of Biden’s policies have undoubtedly moved farther to the left as the Democratic Party continues to become more progressive.
Biden has reportedly kept a distance between himself and some progressives like Ocasio-Cortez amid attacks from Trump that Biden is controlled by the “radical left” and socialists.
The uncertainties also come as polls in some battleground states are tightening – although with Biden mostly in the lead – and reports that Biden’s support among Hispanics has been lagging.
“Senator Sanders is confident that Joe Biden is in a very strong position to win this election, but nevertheless feels there are areas the campaign can continue to improve upon,” Sanders’ former campaign manager Faiz Shakir said in a statement to the Post. “He has been in direct contact with the Biden team and has urged them to put more emphasis on how they will raise wages, create millions of good-paying jobs, lower the cost of prescription drugs and expand health care coverage.”
Shakir added that Sanders was “working as hard as he can” to get the former vice president elected.
Sanders “also thinks that a stronger outreach to young people, the Latino community and the progressive movement will be of real help to the campaign,” he added.
Following clear tensions between Sanders and Clinton in 2016 amid Sanders’ half-hearted endorsement of the former secretary of state — that led to some Sanders’ supporters voting third party, which may have contributed to Clinton’s narrow electoral college loss — Sanders has unequivocally endorsed Biden and campaigned steadily on his behalf.
On Saturday, he spoke to voters in Michigan, urging them to vote for Biden, according to the Post. It was his eighth such event for the nominee.
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The ex-Senate colleagues seem to genuinely like each other, the Post reported, something that didn’t always seem evident with Sanders and Clinton. Earlier this year, Clinton in an interview said “Nobody [in the Senate] likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done,” referring to Sanders.
Clinton’s surprise 2016 loss has loomed large in the minds of Democrats worried that Biden’s lead in the polls could evaporate as hers did into another Election Night loss.