In his first major attack on fellow Democratic primary candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden since losing the delegate lead on Super Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) said that President Donald Trump would “decimate” Biden over his support for NAFTA and other bad trade deals while campaigning in Rust Belt states, the Midwest, and swing states with a strong manufacturing presence like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, the Washington Examiner reported.
“What do you think Trump will do with [Biden] in Michigan and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin? He’ll decimate him on that issue,” Sanders reportedly told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Sanders also has a new ad called “Decimated” that makes the point that Biden has supported bad trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the past.
“Trump will exploit that vulnerability in an effort to obscure his own record and win the battleground states that could swing the general election,” Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir said on Thursday, according to the Examiner.
A bloody primary battle
In fact, Trump is already doing so — and Shakir knows it. Her comment came after Trump made that very point about Biden and NAFTA at a Fox News town hall, saying, according to the Examiner: “He approved it. He was pushing it. It’s the worst trade deal ever made. We’re terminating NAFTA.”
The back and forth is just the beginning of a bloody primary battle that could rage on until the convention this July, which is just more bad news for Democrats.
Sanders has pledged to pull out of the race if he isn’t winning the delegate count by then, but Biden has not made a similar pledge, according to RealClearPolitics.
If Sanders has more primary delegates going into the convention but doesn’t get the nomination, his supporters may be angry enough at what they will see as a pattern of the Democratic Party stealing the nomination away from him that they might not vote in 2020 — or worse, spitefully throw their support behind Trump.
Trump takes advantage
It is to Trump’s advantage to stoke the fires. Getting Biden and Sanders to bloody each other badly could translate to more votes coming his way — or at least, more Democrats staying home from the polls altogether if their preferred candidate isn’t on the ballot.
For its part, Biden’s campaign, awash in new fundraising dollars after his strong Super Tuesday showing, has just released a $12 million ad buy in states set to vote on March 10 and 17, according to Reuters.
Biden is banking on new energy from the realization that he is the last viable candidate left other than Sanders, an avowed socialist whose policies even many Democrats can’t stomach.
The former VP recently pledged to “unite” the country after Democrats whittled nearly 30 presidential candidates down to just him and Sanders. But he will have a lot of work to do if he hopes to unite Americans who have some of the most diverse and polarized views in history.