April 1, 2016
It’s time. Remember that first debate back in October, the one where Bernie said he didn’t care about Hillary’s damn emails? Too early. In February, ahead of a bunch of Southern primaries where Clinton had a big advantage and tons of loyalty in the African American community. Too early.
If he waits another second, too late. It’s go time.
If Bernie wants to win the nomination, he needs to win New York. There are zero ways he wins otherwise without the help of an indictment. If he wants to remain relevant all the way to California, he needs New York.
The campaign raised just short of $90 million the past 60 days. Six million individual contributions since he began almost a year ago. These contributors didn’t pull pennies out of their vacuum cleaners so Bernie could fade quietly into the night. They scraped together contributions to fight.
Not only is Bernie within range in New York, plenty of work to do, but close enough to catch up over a couple weeks, but he is now popular enough to dig in. There are a few lines he shouldn’t cross.
No emails. He’s stayed away so far and should continue to. No Clinton Foundation. Plenty of ammunition there, but with the majority of Democrats still viewing Hillary favorably, it’s not worth it.
The idea is to make Hillary and a few of her key campaign people snap. If you go after the foundation, some of those voters still making up their mind might think it’s poor form. She can play the victim of a rogue candidate from outside the party playing spoiler.
Given the absolute certainty of any GOP candidate focusing on Clinton Foundation conflicts of interest, this is absurd, but the next group of primaries are closed to Independents, and there is no point in turning off Democrats who might otherwise consider him.
Democrats know Bernie is more honest. He doesn’t have to go after Hillary’s ethics. He isn’t anywhere near as comfortable talking about foreign policy. Though the list of undisputed successes from her time as secretary of state is somewhere between short and nonexistent, it’s just not a place he’s going to make points in a Democratic primary.
Yesterday, Hillary snapped while shaking hands on a rope line. A Greenpeace representative called her on taking contributions from oil and gas companies. Mrs. Clinton was not pleased. As it turns out, the questioner had nothing to do with the Sanders campaign, but she got under her skin just the same.
Bernie should continue to push on this. He should quadruple down on pushing Hillary to release the transcripts of her $225,000 speeches to Goldman Sachs. There is literally no limit to how often he can go back to the well here. Mocking her refusal to show her cards until Republicans do should lead to general nastiness from the Clinton campaign.
The refusal to debate Bernie in Brooklyn is another great topic. The campaigns are apparently making some progress on setting a date up, but the actual debate is of less value than the impression that Hillary isn’t willing to.
Given that Brooklyn is the national headquarters for Clinton, it’s extra fun that she seems reluctant. What’s more fitting than his birthplace and the home of her campaign? To up the stakes even further, his campaign can suggest they do the event at the Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets, and a place with approximately 20,000 seats.
He can say that with her lack of willingness to regularly debate, it’s important to do it in a place where many people can attend, not just party members and connected insiders.
These are all great places to start, but his best issue is the $15/hour minimum wage. Hillary’s whole argument is that Bernie can’t get it done. A political revolution isn’t possible. It’s pie in the sky. He’s deceiving his supporters and giving them false hope.
For months she argued $15 wasn’t realistic. Better to try for $12. Well, the state of California just signed off on $15. New York is doing the same, reaching $15 by 2018 in New York City, and a couple years later statewide. Now she’s on board, saying the minimum should range from $12 to $15.
Fifteen bucks is probably way too much for rural Mississippi. Her point is not without foundation, but there’s a bigger issue here. Bernie thought it was possible. Hillary didn’t. He was right, she was wrong, and now she’s following him.
No matter what he does, the Clinton campaign will claim he’s breaking his promise not to run negative ads. Undecided and leaning voters will decide whether those complaints are justified or not. I think he can absolutely get away with running clips of Clinton saying $15/hour isn’t going to happen along with images of it happening.
He should push more on being right than Hillary being wrong. Running ads that say Bernie leads, Hillary follows may appear sexist to some, and failing at that will let her raise it as an issue. Voters will get the message without going there.
Instead he just needs to repeat his belief in the American people. It’s a positive message, and he now has some concrete evidence. New York and California are the two most important states for the rest of the contest. Both have passed $15/hour legislation.
Bernie is still facing daunting delegate math. He needs to win the majority of states on April 26. Pennsylvania won’t be easy. Neither will Maryland, or any of the others. That’s assuming he wins New York. It’s still a very long road with difficult odds.
But a New York win will open some eyes. Now is the time to do everything in his power to make the Clinton campaign sound petulant and get the Big Dog to say something stupid out of frustration.