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The GOP’s new 2020 strategy: Invoke President Sanders

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Bernie Sanders hasn’t won the Democratic primary — but down-ballot Republicans are having a field day acting like he has.

Republicans up and down the ballot are already casting their Democratic rivals as socialist puppets who would remake the economy in Sanders’ collectivist vision. The play is straightforward: President Donald Trump has repelled college-educated suburban voters since he took office; Republicans want to win them back by arguing the alternative is worse.

Arizona Sen. Martha McSally launched a TV ad titled “Bernie Bro” likening her Democratic opponent, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, to the Vermont senator. North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis held a press conference last week linking his Democratic rivals to the Sanders-backed Green New Deal. In Michigan, a conservative group has aired a series of commercials that go after Democratic Sen. Gary Peters by invoking Sanders and his support for Medicare for All.

And in the wake of Sanders’ New Hampshire primary win, the Republican State Leadership Committee, which focuses on state legislative races, has been running digital ads asking whether down-ballot Democrats in more than a half-dozen states are “feeling burned yet” — a take on the Sanders mantra, “Feel the Bern.”

The early activity bolsters claims by Sanders' Democratic rivals that he would be a nightmare for Democrats on the ballot next year. The senator's supporters say Republicans will find a way to demonize whomever the nominee is, and Sanders, at least, brings a big upside with the enthusiasm among young voters he inspires.

But Republicans do seem especially eager to face off against Sanders.


© Politico