Advisers to Hillary Clinton are finally admitting what is becoming clearer with each passing day: Bernie Sanders is turning the hunt for the Democratic nomination into a genuine fight, and fears of a repeat of 2008 have begun to creep into the Clinton campaign.
The New York Times is reporting that high-ranking members of the Clinton 2016 effort, including former President Bill Clinton, believe the campaign made miscalculated by avoiding attacks on Sanders earlier and not countering his progressive message before it ballooned into a movement that now his him on track to win in both Iowa and New Hampshire.
Democrats close to the Clinton campaign say Mrs. Clinton and the former president are also fearful of the very real possibility that Sanders will turn out a wave of first-time voters and liberals which could lead to her defeat in Iowa. They have reportedly asked her advisers about reliability of the campaign’s data modeling and turnout assumptions in Iowa, especially since those projections proved so wrong in the 2008 race against Barack Obama.
At tonight’s debate, we can probably expect more barbs and attacks from the former Secretary of State against Senator Sanders. This week alone, via surrogates, the Clinton camp has sought to paint Sanders as weak on gun control and a threat to the Affordable Care Act. In response, the Sanders campaign has responded by reminding voters that the Vermont Senator wants to guarantee healtcare for all by expanding Medicare for all Americans.
Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, who is working on behalf of the Clinton effort, said there are significant differences between Clinton and Sanders:
Hillary is a pragmatic progressive — she’s not an advocate. She quietly pulls people together and gets things done. Even though that’s not in vogue right now, I think that’s what voters will want in the end.
We can expect that contrast to be stressed in the weeks ahead by Clinton and her surrogates, arguing that she can get things done while Sanders has good ideas but cannot possibly get them enacted if elected in November.
Longtime Clinton confidant James Carville summed up the race this way:
It was probably never going be a straight line — we hoped it would be but feared it wouldn’t be. She’s performed solidly enough, but it’s been a hard race.
For more on the recent tightening of the Democratic race, watch this report from CBS News:
This article was originally published by the same author at BipartisanReport.com.