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Former Chicago mayor and Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel took several direct shots at 2020 Democratic frontrunner Bernie Sanders on The Late Show, prompting host Stephen Colbert to ask: “Are you here tonight to kneecap Bernie?”
Colbert kicked off his Monday night interview with the notoriously blunt Emanuel by asking if Democrats are all “in love” with Sanders, who has won two and tied for first in the first three Democratic primary contests.
“No we’re not. We’ve got a ways to go on this,” Emanuel replied, before citing historical precedent for opposing Sanders’ candidacy.
“In the last hundred years, three Democrats have won reelection for president — Franklin Roosevelt, President [Bill] Clinton, Barack Obama. They “ran with the same strategy as did the midterm elections in 2006 and 2018 of an urban, suburban, metropolitan coalition. Bernie is saying ‘Forget that. Screw it.’ Basically, there are about 70 million socialists ready to be awoken to their inner socialist. And I would just say to you if our number one, two, three, four, five, six goal is to get rid of Donald Trump, it is a really big risk to go on a political strategy that has never been tried before.”
Emanuel’s pessimistic take on Sanders’ chances is not new. The former Obama aide, who counseled his boss to abandon passing Obamacare out of political expediency, has taken high-profile, thinly-veiled shots at Sanders during the campaign. Nearly a year ago, he mocked left-wing proposals like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal in an op-ed in The Atlantic.”If Trump’s only hope for winning a second term turns on his ability to paint us as socialists, we shouldn’t play to type,” Emanuel wrote, attacking Sanders in all but name. And a few months later, Emanuel wrote an opinion piece for Politico complimenting Biden for his “discipline” and dismissing the kinds of passionate, progressive voters flocking to Sanders campaign as little more than a mirage: “All the activists are missing that voters are pragmatic. Activists aren’t pragmatic,” Emanuel wrote. “That’s what Joe Biden has shown. He’s shown that Democrats want to win. It’s not about ‘You’re not for Medicare for all.’ C’mon.”
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