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Sen. Bernie Sanders acted in the best interests of the Democratic Party and the nation Wednesday when he dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Bowing to reality, Sanders conceded that he had no chance of defeating former Vice President Joe Biden for the nomination. Sanders never rose above 30 percent support among Democratic voters in polls and he doesn’t want to be Don Quixote tilting at windmills trying to achieve an impossible dream.
The independent senator from Vermont also understands that asking voters to turn out to cast ballots in primaries during the coronavirus pandemic endangers the health of many and the lives of some.
And, of course, Sanders realizes the Democrats must unite as strongly and as quickly as possible to send President Trump into political retirement for the good of our nation. Trump shows us every day why he is supremely unqualified to lead our country, and most Democrats say their top political goal is defeating him in November.
While Sanders failed for a second time to capture the Democratic presidential nomination, following his 2016 defeat by Hillary Clinton, his campaign succeeded this year in pushing the Democratic Party leftward.
Sanders increased public support for an increased government role in ensuring that all Americans get health care as a right with his “Medicare-for-all” plan, even though Biden hasn’t adopted the plan. And Sanders made his advocacy of once-radical positions like tuition-free public colleges and a $15-an-hour minimum wage mainstream Democratic objectives.
So now that Joe Biden is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, what should he do going forward to make Donald Trump a one-term president?
Be more visible
President Trump is on TV every day giving his coronavirus briefings to the White House press corps. He makes news daily with his many tweets, can line up as many media interviews as he wants, and grabs headlines with his actions as our nation’s leader.
Forced to end rallies, in-person town halls and other campaign events that would bring large groups of people together when such gatherings must be avoided due to the coronavirus pandemic, Biden is far less visible.
And while Biden has plenty of good ideas for dealing with the pandemic and other issues, he doesn’t hold public office now, so can’t make news by getting things done.
Biden is doing weekly podcasts and posting those online and giving media interviews. But his team needs to more aggressively seek out as many media interviews as possible to keep him in the news so he doesn’t become an invisible man. He needs to hold regular news conferences to compete with Trump’s daily White House briefings.
Sanders enjoys strong support among millennials. He must convince them to now support Biden if Biden is to avoid following Hillary Clinton to defeat.
The latest national polls show Biden is only leading Trump by 7 percent as the choice of voters to be elected president in November. Those numbers don’t reflect the withdrawal of Sanders from the presidential race but are too close for comfort.
Partner with Sanders
Unfortunately, Sanders said Wednesday he will remain on primary ballots to get convention delegate support in order to influence the Democratic Party platform and direction. Still, Biden needs to reach out to Sanders to the greatest extent possible to form a team and end their rivalry.
Trump appealed to Sanders supporters Wednesday for their votes. Biden needs Sanders to explain to the “Bernie or Bust” diehard supporters that while Sanders and Biden have their differences, those differences are minor compared with the enormous differences between Sanders and Trump.
Sanders enjoys strong support among millennials. He must convince them to now support Biden if Biden is to avoid following Hillary Clinton to defeat. Sanders gave lukewarm support to Clinton four years ago, but too many Sanders supporters didn’t vote on Election Day, voted for a minor candidate, or even voted for Trump. If that happens again, we’ll have four more years of President Trump.
Unify Democrats, appeal to swing voters
Biden needs to do more than build an alliance with Sanders. The former vice president needs to appeal to all Democratic factions and also to independents and to Republicans who dislike Trump for any number of reasons. Capturing a good chunk of these swing voters is crucial to put Biden in the White House.
Biden’s challenge will be to both keep the support of Sanders’ progressive base while also appealing to moderate voters. If Sanders demands Biden go as far left as possible this will hinder Biden’s efforts to broaden his appeal and will aid Trump.
Biden has already committed to selecting a woman as his vice presidential running mate – a smart move. He needs to give serious consideration to picking a minority woman to boost his support among minority voters, although he already enjoys far more minority support than Trump.
Biden also needs to remind voters what’s at stake in the election. If Trump stays in office and gets to appoint one or more Supreme Court justices, the high court could turn back the clock on many progressive victories involving abortion rights, health care, civil rights, immigrant rights and other issues.
In addition, Trump has shown he is committed to cutting taxes for the richest Americans and cutting programs that help the poorest Americans, the middle class and minorities. Biden needs to get millions of more voters to understand that voting for him is in their own self-interest.
We face a strange election campaign in the months ahead, limited for as long as the coronavirus limits gatherings and dominates the news. But the bottom line is that Sanders’ withdrawal from the race allows Biden to focus now on Trump instead of his intraparty rival, and that’s good news for everyone who wants to see a Democrat in the White House in 2021.
Leslie Marshall joined Fox News Channel as a contributor in 2009; providing analysis on both political and social issues from a liberal point of view. A nationally syndicated talk host, whose program, “The Leslie Marshall Show” can be heard on radio, stream, “Tune In,” “The Progressive Voices Radio Network,” and “The Armed Forces Radio Network.”