Mitch McConnell warns fellow Republicans that underestimating Bernie Sanders would be ‘foolish’

Mitch McConnell warns fellow Republicans that underestimating Bernie Sanders would be ‘foolish’
Mitch McConnell image via Screengrab

Many Republican pundits in the right-wing media have been asserting that if Sen. Bernie Sanders wins the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, he is destined to lose badly to President Donald Trump in the general election — and bring back memories of Democrat George McGovern’s massive loss to President Richard Nixon in 1972. But one far-right Republican who isn’t automatically assuming that Sanders would be easy for Trump to defeat is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Some pundits have asserted that a Sanders nomination would not only make it easier for Trump to be reelected, but also, would guarantee that Republicans maintain control of the U.S. Senate. But when a reporter, on February 25, asked McConnell what he thought, the Senate majority leader responded, “I’m reminded of when the Democrats, back in 1980, were all pulling for Ronald Reagan to be the nominee because they thought he’d be the easiest to beat. I think Republicans speculating about which Democratic candidate for president would be the easiest to beat may be a bit foolish.”

McConnell added, “I think it’s going to be a contested general election with a lot of energy on both sides. And for myself, I’ll leave it up to the Democrats to pick who they’d like to be their candidate.”

In 1980, many pundits argued that Reagan was too far to the right to defeat President Jimmy Carter in the general election. But Reagan enjoyed a landslide victory over Carter and was reelected by a landslide in 1984, although Democrats enjoyed a blue wave in the 1982 midterms.

The Senate majority leader didn’t draw a major distinction between Sanders and more centrist Democratic primary candidates such as former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. McConnell told the reporter, “If you look at what the various candidates for president on the Democratic side are saying, there’s not a whole lot of difference between any of them. They all look pretty much the same to me. And pretty much the same is very, very far to the left. It looks like moderate Democrats are an endangered species.”

McConnell neglected to mention that one of those “very far to the left” Democrats is former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, an ex-Republican who supported GOP politicians ranging from President George W. Bush to Sen. John McCain to Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.


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