With Bernie leading the polls and the Democratic delegate count, Bloomberg’s team seems ready to drop the leash on their opposition research team. On CNN earlier today (via PoliticalWire), a campaign advisor to the former New York mayor brought up some of the “loony” things Bernie has said in the past, including references to childhood sexuality and rape fantasies. Should we look for a neatly packaged oppo drop to appear online shortly?
When campaigns want to try to kneecap an opponent, they can drip the juicy bits out to one or more favored reporters over time, keeping the other side scrambling to respond. Instead, they might hold it for whisper campaigns or last-minute direct mail, particularly if they fear blowback from the attack. Or, they can simply post the whole folder online in a neat package, cross-referenced and packed with quotes and video for the world to see.
Bernie Sanders might change the calculus somewhat, since his skeletons have been wandering out of the closet for years — they’ve been showing up on video and in print since his public career began. Hillary Clinton and her allies had a full file, but the stories never really made an impression in 2016. Perhaps her team pulled their punches, hoping to win over the Bernie bros by November?
Bloomberg apparently hasn’t those compunctions, judging from today’s interview, which includes such concepts as “Orgasms. Rape fantasies. Children running naked. All there.” Will these words appear in Mike’s planned anti-Sanders multi-media blitzkrieg or will journalists have to run with them on their own? Exciting times! Since Bloomberg clearly sees a Sanders nomination as the fastest route to Four More Years for Donald Trump, I suspect that the risk of blowback seems small by comparison.
Bernie’s supporters would be forgiven for wondering why their guy should suffer for past words when Donald Trump has said and done more monstrous things than any American public figure in memory. But for Trump supporters, the horrors are a feature, not a bug, while Democrats simply can’t get away with irresponsible or outrageous talk very easily — a topic for a future day.
Whether Bernie’s words catch up with him today or not, he certainly won’t be able to hide from them if he goes mano a mano with Trump in the fall. The Republicans are fueling up an advertising and outreach steamroller to keep the White House, prepared to push facts, lies or distortions with equal facility. Parscale and his team absolutely won’t be shy about making sure that every potential voter knows what Bernie thought about the Soviet Union or early childhood sexuality. Me? I just donated to Elizabeth Warren.
Top photo: artistic trash, just like oppo.
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