I’m sure this will earn me a fresh round of ire from the Sanderistas, but this time you’ll have to blame Bernie’s top campaign adviser Tad Devine. In a wide-ranging interview with Politico’s Glenn Thrush, he delivered a rather astonishingly frank overview of the state of the campaign. And it included some definite indicators that Bernie’s quest for the presidential nomination is coming close to its end.
Not his campaign, mind you. Devine remains committed to, in Bernie’s oft-repeated words, fighting all the way to the convention. As well he should. But Devine threw out some unmistakable hints that time is running out on a serious quest for the big prize.
Starting with the headline, in which Devine openly mulls the possibility of Bernie as the vice presidential nominee.
“I’m sure, of course, anyone would,” Devine says when I ask if he could see a scenario where Sanders would actually say yes. They haven’t talked about the possibility, Devine adds, and he says Sanders would never, ever consider it “unless you know, it was done in the right and proper way.” That’s a far cry from last year, when Sanders and Co. rebuffed the second-banana suggestion by countering with an offer to give Clinton the vice presidential slot on his ticket.
Devine isn’t throwing in the towel, not at all. Indeed, he told Thrush that Bernie wouldn’t be lowering his guns anytime soon. No reining in the attacks on trade or Wall Street. No making nicey-nicey to ingratiate himself with the Clinton campaign. If they want Bernie, well, they’ll have to take the full Bernie.
Which ain’t a bad idea, really. A “unity ticket” is far from unprecedented in American politics, and it can be quite successful. It would also be done on Bernie’s terms, I’m sure; he would drive a tough bargain when it comes to impacting the platform, the tone of the campaign, and the agenda of a Clinton presidency. And you could be damn sure that Bernie would shout it from the rooftops if he felt that Clinton had reneged on the deal.
Truth be told, if I were choosing a strong progressive voice for veep, I’d prefer Elizabeth Warren. She’s as feisty and unyielding as Bernie, so she would drive a hard bargain and make the Clinton team live up to it. She’s also young enough to feasibly run for president after Hillary. Plus, I’d just love to see two women on a major-party ticket.
But that’s relatively minor stuff. Point is, I really hope that Clinton chooses a solid progressive for her running mate. Bernie would be excellent.
Oh, but there I go again, throwing dirt on the Sanders campaign.
So let’s get back to Tad Devine’s own view of his candidate’s prospects.
… the delegate math of the next six weeks does not add up to a Sanders nomination. The big blow, Devine says, was Sanders’ 5-percentage-point loss in the Nevada caucuses last month that Devine and Co. view as a gut punch and game changer. …he acknowledges that Nevada led to a wholesale strategic reassessment, the abandonment of a quick-knockout strategy and the adoption of a far less certain approach that boils down to raising heaps of online cash, fighting state by state and hoping for a big break.
The “big break” has yet to materialize. Devine remains hopeful, but admits that time is growing short.
“We’re going to try to beat her in pledged delegates … [but] it’s going to be hard. It’s going to be tough,” he tells me when I ask him how long this thing will last. “Now, you know, we’re not going to know the answer to that, really, until, I’d say, maybe the middle of April, OK? Not the middle of March. You know, we’ll see where we are then, to make that decision.”
The Sanders campaign fights on, as it should. Devine remains fully committed to the fight, as he should. But he can see the writing on the wall. That’s not me talking, Bernie backers; that’s Ya Boy.