Sunday, August 16, 2015

Bernie Sanders is Kicking into Overdrive


As I have noted before, I like much of what Bernie Sanders has to say.  In many ways he is the Koch brother's worse nightmare - which is a very good thing.  Now, he seems to be picking up stream and threatens to give Hillary Clinton more of a run for her money than she and her advisers ever contemplated.  Can he keep up the momentum?  That's the big question.  A piece in Politico looks at Sanders' effort to kick into overdrive to continue to confound the naysayers.  Here are excerpts:

After a poll this week showed the previously unthinkable — the 73-year-old Independent senator from Vermont surging past Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire — there’s a feeling that the Bernie Sanders operation is maturing from a quixotic pursuit for the White House into the real deal.

Sanders’ campaign is calling the Franklin Pierce University and the Boston Herald poll, which found Sanders beating Clinton 44 percent to 37 percent in the Granite State, an “astonishing” feat. It gives even more fuel to a momentum that the Sanders team is riding to significantly expand its ground game, especially in New Hampshire.

The campaign has already outgrown its modest office on Manchester Road in Concord, and will be moving the state headquarters to Manchester in the coming days. The campaign currently has 10 staffers, with six or seven more staffers to begin Monday. A week after that, another new crew is starting. Aides also will be scouting out more real estate to add to the two field offices.

Barnes estimated the campaign had received over 500 resumes in recent weeks, and spoke animatedly about the aggressive expansion in the coming weeks.

Barnes didn’t want to call the poll findings a game changer, saying it’s not going to cause an operational shift. But she said the numbers help cultivate enthusiasm for the campaign’s volunteers. She said “for the network of people supporting Bernie, it’s astonishing.”

The picture is a far cry from Sanders’ soft announcement of his presidential bid in late April, shifted to the Senate Swamp near the Capitol, after questions arose about the ethics of staging it in the Senate Radio/TV gallery. While he made headlines for busting records for drawing 10,000 supporters to a rally in Wisconsin in July, last weekend he managed to attract 28,000 people to a sports arena in Portland.

After spending Saturday at the Iowa State Fair, and hosting a fundraiser in Chicago on Monday, Sanders heads to the University of Nevada on Tuesday for another rally.

While the New Hampshire poll this week was just one set of numbers, and Clinton still enjoys a comfortable lead, the Democratic front-runner’s campaign was concerned enough to reach out to supporters.

As Clinton’s aides were beating back fresh headlines about the scandal over her use of private email server while secretary of state, the campaign sent out a “friends and allies” memo, offering talking points to minimize the poll, according to the New York Times.

Surdukowski also delivered a takedown of both Sanders and Clinton, saying the Vermont senator’s currently popularity is also about distaste with Clinton.

“I think that the Bernie crowds and him at least in this one poll rocketing ahead is it’s both about Bernie. But I also think it’s about Secretary Clinton in some ways. I think there are large swaths of folks who are seeing a trust gap with Clinton. At the end of the day there is a character and a trust issue. There’s a lot of deja vu in the Nineties,” Surdukowski said. “I am as surprised as anybody at these remarkable crowds.”

“I think the panic that folks are trying to assign to it is off the mark. I would need to see more,” Sean Downey, a Democratic operative working for Hilltop Public Solutions’ New England office said. Downey is a Clinton supporter. “When you look at what the Clinton campaign is doing is they’re organizing at the neighborhood level at a pretty impressive rate, and her crowds aren’t exactly small.”

The Clinton campaign’s presence in the state is tangible, too. Harrell Kirstein, the communications director for the Clinton campaign in the state, noted that there are already six offices for Clinton throughout the state and a seventh to be opened in Lebanon soon.

“New Hampshire has always been a competitive race and that is something that we prepared for from the beginning,” Kirstein said. He also noted that Clinton “said from the outset that she’s going to take nothing for granted.”

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