CHICAGO (CBS) – Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel had a clear warning for Democrats: A primary victory for Bernie Sanders puts the whole future of the party at risk.
“His candidacy is built on a false premise, strategically and policy-wise,” Emanuel, who served in both Clinton and Obama administrations, said of the far left candidate on CBS This Morning.
Sanders, he said, is playing with political fire by dismissing moderate Democrats.
“Bernie Sanders view is, I don’t want these moderate and fickle voters. We just have to turn out our base,” Emanuel said. “His view is, forget the center, we just want to be left. And that’s never been tried.”
Emanuel pointed to six elections—the four presidential wins by Clinton and Obama and the two midterms in 2006 and 2018—in which a center left strategy and “big urban and suburban turnout” were the keys to victory.
Sanders, who has emerged as the front runner after early primaries, is “an ideological risk policy-wise. I don’t think there are 70 million waiting socialists to be woken, who don’t know they are socialists yet.”
He cited Illinois House districts, which are traditionally conservative but were flipped blue in 2018. None of those candidates has rushed to back Sanders. Similar seats nationwide are in jeopardy without a plan to reach moderate voters at the top of the ticket, he said.
“It’s survival. That means you are not only risking the presidency, the Senate and the House, the governorships and all the statehouses for redistricting.”
Emanuel also had a harsh critique for billionaire Mike Bloomberg, who surged in the polls with big ad spends, but had a disastrous first debate last week.
The former New York mayor, Emanuel said, “was not ready for what was happening on the debate stage.”
He questioned why Bloomberg rushed onto that platform, when spending money on ads was working so well for him. “It exposed the fact that he wasn’t ready for prime time.”