Political campaigns are like blockbuster films – massive undertakings with many moving parts, whose successes are difficult to replicate. It’s never easy for a sequel to live up to the original. While the cast of characters may be the same, things that were once fresh may, after time, seem recycled and tired.
And while the backbone of Sanders’ rhetoric is the same, there are some new twists and flourishes. There’s a heavier emphasis on criminal justice reform and swipes at the “prison-industrial complex.” More talk of his own personal story, including his childhood of living “paycheque to paycheque”. His wife, Jane Sanders, has joined the list of campaign surrogates, offering a more personal look at the candidate.
It’s all part of the Sanders campaign’s attempt to expand on the successes and avoid the mistakes of 2016.
There are a number of ways this iteration of the Bernie political crusade is clearly better positioned for victory. In 2016, it was frequently a slapdash, shoestring operation ill-prepared for the scope of the national contest.
“When we began the campaign back in May of 2015, there was no way to know how quickly the campaign was going to grow and how much grass-roots support there would be,” says Jeff Weaver, who ran the Sanders campaign in 2016 and is now a senior adviser to Sanders. “So the campaign really could not keep up.”
This time around, he says, Sanders has a much more sophisticated nationwide electoral infrastructure. The Vermont senator’s Our Revolution organisation – picking up where his 2016 effort left off and developed over three years – effectively served as a turnkey national campaign, just waiting for the green light.
Sanders boasts a volunteer list of over a million people, and can turn on the money faucet from his grass-roots donor network with seeming ease. In the first quarter of 2019 fundraising, he pulled in $18.2m – easily outpacing the rest of the Democratic field (which excluded Biden at that stage).
Bernie energizes the crowd at Rep Jim Clyburn’s Fish Fry last evening:
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